He received his training at the Staatstheater in Berlin. He made his stage debut in Messeritz and Speyer, and then toured Germany for two years appearing at theatres in Zittau, Erfurt, Bremen, Lucerne, Gera, and Frankfurt. Schreck then joined Max Reinhart's celebrated company of performers back in Berlin. Many of Reinhart's troupe made a huge contribution to the cinema.
For three years between 1919 and 1922, Schreck appeared at the Kammerspiele in Munich whilst working on his first film Der Richter Von Zalamea, adapted from a six act play, for Decla Bioscop. In 1922 he was hired by Prana Film for their first and only production, Nosferatu. The company declared themselves bankrupt after the film's release to avoid paying copyright infringement costs to an irate Florence Stoker, the widow of Dracula author Bram Stoker. Schreck's Count Orlok, with its bald, rat shaped head and long spidery fingers remains a haunting character.
In 1923, Schreck appeared as a blind man in the acclaimed film Die Strasse. No prints of this film remain today.
Schreck did appear in a comedy, albeit poorly made. Even the director, F.W. Murnau expressed his repugnance over Die Finanzen Des Grossherzogs (The Finances of the Grand Duke).
In 1926, Schreck returned to the Kammerspiele in Munich and continued to act in films right through the advent of sound until his death. He was married to actress Fanny Normann, who appeared in a few films, often credited as Fanny Schreck.
Suggestions that Schreck was really actor Alfred Abel can be seen to be wrong when the two actors are seen together. Their physiques do not match at all.
Curiously, the word Schreck is also the German word for fright, or terror. The character Max Shreck in Batman Returns may be named in homage of Schreck.
Max Schreck Facts
|Birth Name||Maximilian Schreck|
|Birthday||June 11, 1879|
|Date of death||November 26, 1936 (age 57)|