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Erich Ponto

Erich Ponto
Fotothek df pk 0000156 028 Aufnahmen von M. Friedrichs, M. Fischer, Hermann Matern, Arno Schellenberg und F.jpg
Ponto in July 1945
Erich Johannes Bruno Ponto

(1884-12-14)14 December 1884
Died14 February 1957(1957-02-14) (aged 72)
Resting placeTolkewitz cemetery, Dresden
Years active1908–1957
SpouseTony Kresse
ChildrenEva Doering (born 1918), Klaus Ponto (1927-1985), grandson = Manoel Ponto (1949-1996)
AwardsBaden-Württemberg State actor (1952)
Federal Cross of Merit (1954)
Deutscher Filmpreis (1956)

Erich Johannes Bruno Ponto (14 December 1884 – 14 February 1957) was a German film and stage actor.


Erich Ponto was born in Lübeck as the son of a merchant. After his family had moved to Hamburg-Eimsbüttel, he attended the gymnasium secondary school in Altona and upon his Abitur exam began a study of pharmacy at the University of Munich, where he went to lectures delivered by Nobel prize laureate Wilhelm Röntgen. He worked for a few years as a pharmacist, but was already passionate about acting during his university time – he started to take acting lessons and eventually became a full-time actor.[1]

Ponto gave his debut on stage at the Stadttheater Passau in 1908, followed by engagements in Nordhausen, Reichenberg (Liberec), and Düsseldorf. From 1914 to 1947 he was a member of the Hoftheater Dresden ensemble (Staatstheater Dresden from 1918), in the season 1946/47 also as intendant.[2] On stage his most famous role was that of J.J. Peachum in the original production of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera in 1928. During the Third Reich he won the title of a Staatsschauspieler in 1938, the highest title that could be awarded to a stage actor in Nazi-Germany. Later stage roles included Nathan the Wise in 1945 and Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman in 1950.[3][4]

Ponto only started to appear in films regularly after the start of the sound film, when he was already middle-aged. He became a well-known character actor in German cinema of the 1930s and 1940s, often in eccentric or villainous roles. Among his roles were Mayer Amschel Rothschild in the anti-semitic Nazi film The Rothschilds (1940) and a stuffy school teacher in Die Feuerzangenbowle (1944) with Heinz Rühmann, widely regarded as a film classic in Germany. After World War II he appeared in Carol Reed's British thriller The Third Man (1949), he played Orson Welles' sinister physician in a supporting role. In 1955 Ponto won the German Film Award as the "Best male actor in a Supporting role" for Himmel ohne Sterne (1955).[5] He worked as an actor until shortly before his death.

As a synchronisation actor, Ponto dubbed English-language actors like Lionel Barrymore, Charles Laughton and Charley Grapewin in a number of films between the mid 1930s and early 1950s.[6]

Personal life

In 1916 he married Tony Kresse, they had two children. Ponto also worked as an acting teacher, among his students was Gert Fröbe of Goldfinger fame.[7] Ponto's final film was Der Stern von Afrika, released in the year of his death. He died at the age of 72 after a long cancer illness. Erich Ponto was the uncle of Dresdner Bank general director Jürgen Ponto, who was murdered by members of the communist RAF in 1977.[8]

Selected filmography

Erich Ponto in the Web

Erich Ponto at IMDb


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Erich Ponto
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