Maximilian Schell, the Austrian-born actor who won an Academy Award for his role in Judgement At Nuremburg died Saturday, February 1st at his home in Innsbruck, Austria after “a sudden and serious illness,” it was reported by the Austria Press Agency. He was 83.
Schell’s complex and compelling performance as a defense attorney in Stanley Kramer’s 1961’s Judgement At Nuremberg won him the Best Actor that year. It was the actor’s first high-profile lead role since transplanting himself from the German film industry to Hollywood, though he did have a supporting role in The Young Lions (1958) opposite Marlon Brando and Montgomery Clift and appearing in a number of television projects. Schell would receive two more acting Oscar nominations from the Academy – the first for Best Actor for his work in The Man In The Glass Booth and a Best Supporting Actor nod for his role in Julia opposite Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards.
Many of the films he appeared in over the heyday of his career through the 1960s and 70s include Topkapi (1964), Krakatoa: East Of Java (1969), The Odessa File (1974), A Bridge Too Far (1977) and The Black Hole (1979).
In 1970, Schell wrote, directed and starred in the drama First Love, which would be nominated for a Best Foreign Film Oscar. Schell won a second Best Foreign Film nomination for directing The Pedestrian in 1973. He returned to directing in 1984 for the documentary Marlene about the famous German-born actress Marlene Dietrich. The actress had originally agreed to participate in the project, but when Schell arrived with his camera crew at her Paris home to interview her, she had changed her mind. Schell was able to persuade her to at least audio record an interview with her, with which he used as the spine of his film. The film received a nomination for Best Documentary.