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Mischa Auer

Mischa Auer
Mischa Auer 1940s.jpg
Auer in the 1940s
Mischa Ounskowsky

(1905-11-17)17 November 1905
Died5 March 1967(1967-03-05) (aged 61)
Resting placeProspect Hill Cemetery (Gloversville, New York), U.S.
Years active1925–1967
Norma Tillman
(m. 1931; div. 1941)
Joyce Hunter
(m. 1941; div. 1950)
Susanne Kalish
(m. 1950; div. 1957)
Elsie Souls Lee
(m. 1965)

Mischa Auer (born Mikhail Semyonovich Unkovsky (Михаил Семёнович Унковский; 17 November 1905 – 5 March 1967) was a Russian-born American actor who moved to Hollywood in the late 1920s. He first appeared in film in 1928. Auer had a long career playing in many of the era's best known films. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 1936 for his performance in the screwball comedy My Man Godfrey, which led to further zany comedy roles. He later moved into television and acted in films again in France and Italy well into the 1960s.

Early life

Auer was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. His name is usually seen as Mischa Ounskowsky, Mischa being the German transliteration of Misha (the diminutive form of Mikhail), and Ounskowsky being the French transliteration of his surname. Auer's father was a Russian naval officer whose own mother was the daughter of Hungarian-born violinist Leopold Auer[1] Auer's mother was Nadine Pelikan. His father died when he was three, and he was taken in by his grandfather.[1] Leopold Auer emigrated to the United States after the Russian Revolution. Mischa Auer and his mother became separated, but were reunited during the Russian Civil War.[1] She, however, died of typhus.[1] Auer was able to contact his grandfather, who brought the teenager to the United States in August 1920.[1]


Auer began performing on the stage in the 1920s[1] in Bertha Kalich's Thalia Yiddish Theater, then moved to Hollywood, where he first appeared in 1928 in Something Always Happens.[2] He appeared in several small, mostly uncredited roles into the 1930s, appearing in such films as Rasputin and the Empress, Viva Villa!, The Yellow Ticket, the George Gershwin musical Delicious, the Paramount Pictures all-star revue Paramount on Parade and The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.[3]

In 1936, Auer was cast as Alice Brady's protégé in the comedy My Man Godfrey, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.[4] Prior to that, he had been mostly playing villains.[1] He stated, "That one role made a comic out of me."[1] From then on, he was regularly cast in zany comedy roles.[2] Auer played the ballet instructor Kolenkov in the Best Picture-winning You Can't Take It with You and the prince-turned-fashion designer in Walter Wanger's Vogues of 1938.[3] Auer can also be seen cavorting in such films as: Arsène Lupin (1932), One Hundred Men and a Girl, Hold That Ghost, Destry Rides Again, Spring Parade, Hellzapoppin', Cracked Nuts, Lady in the Dark, and Up in Mabel's Room (1944).[5] He was also one of the large cast of And Then There Were None, and appeared in a pair of vehicles for opera singer Lily Pons.[6][7][8]

In the 1950s, Auer appeared on several episodic television series, such as Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, Studio One, Broadway Television Theatre and The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre. He appeared in Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadin (1955), and in the 1960s, he made several films in France and Italy, including The Christmas That Almost Wasn't.[6]

Personal life

Auer married four times and had three children. His first wife was Norma Tillman (1931–1941), whom he married in 1931. They had a son Anthony and a daughter Zoia. They divorced in 1941. In the same year, he married Joyce Hunter (4 December 1941 – 1950), his second wife, whom he lived with for 9 years. His third wife was Susanne Kalish (5 May 1950 – 1957), and they had one daughter. His fourth wife was Elise Souls Lee (1965–5 March 1967) who died in 1976.


Auer paid the utility bills of the Holy Virgin Mary Russian Orthodox Cathedral (in Los Angeles) for several years.[citation needed]


Auer died of cardiovascular disease in Rome in 1967 and was interred at Prospect Hill Cemetery in Gloversville, New York.[9]

Selected filmography

Year Film Role Director Notes
1928 Something Always Happens Clark Frank Tuttle
1929 Marquis Preferred Albert Frank Tuttle
1929 Why Be Good? Man Dancing at The Boiler William A. Seiter uncredited
1929 The Studio Murder Mystery Grant's Secretary Frank Tuttle uncredited
1929 The Mighty Hood John Cromwell uncredited
1930 Guilty? Minor Role uncredited
1930 The Benson Murder Case Albert Brecker Frank Tuttle uncredited
1930 Paramount on Parade Thug (Murder Will Out) Edmund Goulding and 10 other directors uncredited
1930 Inside the Lines Amahdi Roy Pomeroy[10]
1930 Shooting Straight Frenchie George Archainbaud uncredited
1930 Just Imagine B-36 David Butler
1931 The Royal Bed Grecian Ambassador Lowell Sherman uncredited
1931 No Limit Romeo Frank Tuttle
1931 Command Performance Duke Charles Walter Lang
1931 It Pays to Advertise Man Putting Sign on Car Frank Tuttle uncredited
1931 King of the Wild Prince Dakka, escaped lunatic Theodore Joos
1931 The Drums of Jeopardy Peter George B. Seitz
1931 The Spy Man in Cafe Berthold Viertel
1931 Always Goodbye Mechanic William Cameron Menzies uncredited
1931 Women of All Nations Hassan's Aide Raoul Walsh uncredited
1931 Women Love Once Oscar Edward Goodman
1931 The Lady from Nowhere Rigo Richard Thorpe
1931 The Unholy Garden Prince Nicolai Poliakoff George Fitzmaurice
1931 The Yellow Ticket Melchior Raoul Walsh
1931 Working Girls Elsie's Boyfriend Dorothy Arzner uncredited
1931 Mata Hari Firing Squad Victim George Fitzmaurice uncredited
1931 Delicious Mischa David Butler
1932 The Monster Walks Hanns Krug Frank R. Strayer
1932 Murder at Dawn Henry Richard Thorpe
1932 Sinister Hands Swami Yomurda Armand Schaefer
1932 Arsène Lupin Louvre Tour Guide Jack Conway uncredited
1932 Midnight Patrol Dummy Black Christy Cabanne
1932 The Last of the Mohicans General Montcalm B. Reeves Eason
1932 No Greater Love Rabbi
1932 Beauty Parlor Herman Bauer Richard Thorpe
1932 Almost Married Russian Policeman William Cameron Menzies uncredited
1932 Drifting Souls Skeets Louis King
1932 The Western Code Chapman John P. McCarthy
1932 Scarlet Dawn Sergei William Dieterle uncredited
1932 Call Her Savage Agitator in Restaurant John Francis Dillon uncredited
1932 The Unwritten Law Abu Zeyd Christy Cabanne
1932 The Sign of the Cross Christian in Dungeon Cecil B. DeMille uncredited
1932 Rasputin and the Empress Butler Pouring Drinks at Party Richard Boleslawski uncredited
1933 Dangerously Yours Kassim Frank Tuttle
1933 Clear All Wires! Arab Leader George Hill uncredited
1933 Sucker Money Swami Yomurda Melville Shyer
1933 The Intruder Wild Man Albert Ray
1933 Gabriel Over the White House Mr. Thieson Gregory La Cava uncredited
1933 Infernal Machine Klein Marcel VarnelMartin Santell uncredited
1933 The Flaming Signal Manu—High Priest Charles E. Roberts
1933 I Loved You Wednesday Piano Accompanist William Cameron Menzies uncredited
1933 Corruption Volkov Charles E. Roberts
1933 Storm at Daybreak Assassin Richard Boleslawski uncredited
1933 Tarzan the Fearless Eltar, High Priest of Zar Robert F. Hill
1933 The Way to Love Songwriter at Piano Norman Taurog uncredited
1933 After Tonight Adjutant Lehan George Archainbaud
1933 Cradle Song Village Priest Mitchell Leisen
1933 Girl Without a Room Walksky Ralph Murphy
1934 Moulin Rouge Sculptor Sidney Lanfield scenes deleted
1934 The Crosby Case DeCobra Edwin L. Marin uncredited
1934 Wharf Angel Sadik George Somnes
1934 The Woman Condemned Dr. Wagner Dorothy Davenport
1934 Viva Villa! Military Attaché William Wellman uncredited
1934 The Trumpet Blows Stephen Roberts
1934 Change of Heart Smith John G. Blystone uncredited
1934 Stamboul Quest Sam Wood
Jack Conway (uncredited)[11]
1934 Beyond the Law Tully D. Ross Lederman
1934 Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back Hassan Roy Del Ruth
1934 Student Tour Sikh Cop Charles Reisner uncredited
1935 Biography of a Bachelor Girl Mr. Rabinowitz Edward H. Griffith uncredited
1935 The Lives of a Bengal Lancer Captured Afridi Henry Hathaway uncredited
1935 Mystery Woman Dmitri Eugene Forde
1935 Clive of India King Suraj Ud Dowlah Richard Boleslawski
1935 Murder in the Fleet Kamchukan consul Edward Sedgwick
1935 The Adventures of Rex and Rinty Tanaga [Chs. 1, 4, 8, 10-12] B. Reeves Eason Serial
1935 The Crusades Monk Cecil B. DeMille
1935 Anna Karenina Mahotin Clarence Brown uncredited
1935 Condemned to Live Zan Frank R. Strayer
1935 I Dream Too Much Darcy's Pianist John Cromwell
1935 We're Only Human William 'Lefty' Berger James Flood
Clem Beauchamp (assistant)
1936 Tough Guy Chi Chester Franklin
1936 Here Comes Trouble Lewis Seiler
1936 The House of a Thousand Candles Victor Demetrius Arthur Lubin
1936 Sons o' Guns German Spy Lloyd Bacon
1936 One Rainy Afternoon Leading man Rowland V. Lee
1936 The Princess Comes Across Inspector Morevitch William K. Howard
1936 My Man Godfrey Carlo Gregory La Cava
1936 The Gay Desperado Diego Rouben Mamoulian
1936 Winterset A radical Alfred Santell
1936 College Holiday Ticket Taker at Door Frank Tuttle uncredited
1936 Three Smart Girls Count Arisztid Henry Koster
1936 That Girl from Paris Butch Leigh Jason
1937 Top of the Town Hamlet Walter Lang
1937 We Have Our Moments Capt. Enrico Mussetti Alfred L. Werker
1937 Pick a Star Rinaldo Lopez Edward Sedgwick
1937 Marry the Girl Dimitri Kyeff William C. McGann
1937 It's All Yours Baron Rene de Montigny Elliott Nugent
1937 Walter Wanger's Vogues of 1938 Prince Muratov Irving Cummings
Charles Kerr (assistant)
1937 One Hundred Men and a Girl Michael Borodoff Henry Koster
1937 Merry-Go-Round of 1938 Mischa
1937 Prescription for Romance Count Sandor S. Sylvan Simon
1938 The Rage of Paris Mike Lebedovich Henry Koster
1938 You Can't Take It with You Potap Kolenkhov Frank Capra
1938 Service de Luxe Serge Bebenko Rowland V. Lee
1938 Little Tough Guys in Society Dr. Trenkle Erle C. Kenton
1938 Sweethearts Leo Kronk W.S. Van Dyke
1939 East Side of Heaven Nicky David Butler
1939 Unexpected Father Boris Bebenko Charles Lamont
1939 Destry Rides Again Boris Callahan George Marshall
1940 Alias the Deacon Andre Christy Cabanne
1940 Sandy Is a Lady Felix Lobo Smith Charles Lamont
1940 Public Deb No. 1 Grisha Gregory Ratoff
1940 Spring Parade Gustav Henry Koster
1940 Margie Gomez Paul Gerard Smith
1940 Seven Sinners Sasha Mencken Tay Garnett
1940 Trail of the Vigilantes Bolo
1941 The Flame of New Orleans Zolotov René Clair
1941 Cracked Nuts Boris Kabikoff Edward F. Cline
1941 Hold That Ghost Gregory Arthur Lubin
1941 Sing Another Chorus Stanislaus Charles Lamont
1941 Moonlight in Hawaii 'Clipper' Canovan Charles Lamont
1941 Hellzapoppin' Pepi H. C. Potter
Joseph A. McDonough (assistant)
Edward F. Cline (additional comedy scenes)
1942 Don't Get Personal Stainslaus Noodnick a.k.a. Charlie Charles Lamont
1942 Twin Beds Nicolai Cherupin Tim Whelan
1943 Around The World Himself Allan Dwan
Harry Scott (assistant)
1944 Lady in the Dark Russell Paxton Mitchell Leisen
1944 Up in Mabel's Room Boris Allan Dwan
1945 A Royal Scandal Captain Sukov Ernst Lubitsch
1945 Brewster's Millions Michael Michaelovich Allan Dwan
1945 And Then There Were None Prince Nikita Starloff René Clair
1946 Sentimental Journey Gregory Petrovich Rogozhin Walter Lang
1946 She Wrote the Book Joe Charles Lamont
1947 For You I Die Alec Shaw John Reinhardt
1948 Sofia Ali Imagu John Reinhardt
1949 A Night of Fame Bernard Stork Steno
1949 Vivere a sbafo
1949 Snow White and the Seven Thieves Mirko Giacomo Gentilomo Dr. Lebovich
1952 Song of Paris Comte Marcel de Sarliac John Guillermin
1954 Service Entrance Nicolas Pouchkoff Carlo Rim
1955 School for Love Berger Marc Allégret
1955 Frou-Frou Grand Duke Alexis Augusto Genina
1955 L'impossible Monsieur Pipelet The unsuccessful writer, a lodger André Hunebelle
1955 Mr. Arkadin the Professor Orson Welles
1955 La pícara molinera el corregidor
1955 Thirteen at the Table Badabof André Hunebelle
1956 Naughty Girl Igor the ballet master Michel Boisrond
1956 Trois de la Canebière Garopoulos
1956 Mannequins of Paris Yaschlik
1956 Plucking the Daisy Alexis the taxi driver Marc Allégret uncredited
1956 The Monte Carlo Story Hector, the Maitre D' Samuel A. Taylor
1957 La polka des menottes Charles Magne
1957 Nathalie Cyril Boran
1958 Tabarin Boris Richard Pottier
1958 Le tombeur M. Pedro Olivaro
1958 Sacrée Jeunesse Prof. Koranoff
1958 A Dog, a Mouse, and a Sputnik Professor Papov Jean Dréville
1962 We Joined the Navy Colonel & President Wendy Toye
1963 The King's Breakfast Master of the king's music Short
1963 Les femmes d'abord Le baron Lionel de Balconi
1964 Cleopazza Produttore Strombic
1964 Queste pazze pazze donne The Psychiatrist
1964 Clémentine chérie Le décorateur
1964 I due mafiosi Mischa Giorgio Simonelli
1964 What Ever Happened to Baby Toto? Count Mischa Ottavio Alessi
1966 The Christmas That Almost Wasn't Jonathan, the elf foreman Rossano Brazzi
1966 Drop Dead Darling Romeo Ken Hughes
1967 Per amore... per magia... Magrebì, Grand Duke of Forilarì Duccio Tessari final film role


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Robinson, Harlow (2007). Russians in Hollywood, Hollywood's Russians: Biography of an Image. UPNE. pp. 78–81. ISBN 9781555536862. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Mischa Auer - Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
  3. ^ a b "Mischa Auer". BFI.
  4. ^ "My Man Godfrey (1936) - Gregory La Cava - Awards". AllMovie.
  5. ^ Higham, Charles; Greenberg, Joel (1968). Hollywood in the Forties. London: A. Zwemmer Limited. p. 161. ISBN 9780302004777.
  6. ^ a b "Mischa Auer - Movies and Filmography". AllMovie.
  7. ^ "I Dream Too Much (1935) - John Cromwell - Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  8. ^ "That Girl from Paris (1937) - Leigh Jason - Cast and Crew". AllMovie.
  9. ^ Willis, John (June 1, 1983). Screen World 1968. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. ISBN 9780819603098 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ "Inside the Lines: Technical Details". Retrieved July 3, 2014.
  11. ^ "Notes" on
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Mischa Auer
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