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article imageActor Maximilian Schell dead at 83

By Christophe Schmidt (AFP)     Feb 1, 2014 in World

Austrian actor Maximilian Schell, who won an Oscar for best actor for his role in the 1961 film "Judgment at Nuremberg", has died at the age of 83, his agent announced Saturday.

Schell died following "a sudden and serious illness", agent Patricia Baumbauer said.

The actor took ill on January 18 in Kitzbuhel, western Austria, where he was filming for German channel ZDF, the Austrian news agency APA reported.

He died after leaving the hospital on Tuesday, APA reported after having initially said he died overnight in a clinic in the western Austrian city of Innsbruck.

Born in Vienna, before fleeing with his parents into exile in Switzerland following Austria's annexation by the Nazis in 1938, he returned to Austria after the war and later became a successful Hollywood actor.

Schell started at the age of 23 as a stage actor in the Swiss town of Basel, but spent a long time in the shadow of his older sister Maria Schell, who also broke into Hollywood.

He modestly declared he "remained in her shadow all of his life". His devotion to his sister was apparent in 2002 when he produced an intimate documentary, entitled "My Sister Maria", chronicling her life, career and struggle with illness.

He made his Hollywood debut in 1958 at 28 years old, acting beside Marlon Brando in "The Young Lions", a film by Edward Dmytryk.

Life-long love of the stage

Austrian/Swiss actress Maria Schell (R) and her brother Maximilian Schell arriving at a theater in M...
Austrian/Swiss actress Maria Schell (R) and her brother Maximilian Schell arriving at a theater in Munich on November 16, 1977
Istvan Bajzat, DPA/AFP/File

But it was in 1961 that he made his real breakthrough with his role as a lawyer for a Nazi war criminal in Stanley Kramer's "Judgment at Nuremberg", which won him the Academy Award for best actor. He starred with Marlene Dietrich, Burt Lancaster, Spencer Tracy and Richard Widmark.

Following this success, Schell was able to establish himself in Hollywood with other well-received movies.

In 1964, he starred in the heist movie "Topkapi". Then followed two other films which garnered him Oscar nominations, "The Man in the Glass Booth" in 1975, and two years later "Julia", which also starred Jane Fonda.

Despite his success in the US, he continued to work in Europe.

He also worked behind the camera, producing, directing and starring in the 1975 film "End of the Game", a German crime movie starring Jon Voight.

Throughout his long career, he remained faithful to the theatre. In 2000 he acted in a stage version of "Judgment at Nuremberg", and in London in 2006 he played in a Robert Altman production of an Arthur Miller play, "Resurrection Blues".

Even in later life, he continued to work regularly. Since the 1990s he regularly appeared in German television movies.

Schell was married to the Russian actress Natalia Andreichenko. They were together 17 years and had a daughter, Nastasia. The couple divorced in 2002.

Following his divorce he was linked to the German singer Iva Mihanovic, who was 48 years his junior. They married last year. He appeared on stage with Mihanovic as recently as 2012 in a Munich operetta, "L'Auberge du Cheval Blanc".

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