Erich von Stroheim

For me, Vienna is as different from what they call Vienna now as the quick is different from the dead.

This Hollywood director and actor was born in Vienna as Erich Oswald Stroheim to a Jewish family, though he himself claimed to be the son of Austrian nobility. The facts about his childhood remain a mystery -- it’s only known that around 1910 he emigrated to the USA, and in 1914 started working in Hollywood as a consultant on German culture and fashion, along with appearing in several films as an extra and stuntman. Most notably, Stroheim took uncredited roles in 'The Birth of a Nation and Intolerance' by D.W. Griffith. After World War II, he began writing scripts, starting with 'Blind Husbands' in 1919. One of his scripts was turned into a novel entitled 'Paprika'. Later, he worked on his own films, gaining renown as a detail-obsessed and arrogant director. His classics include 'Merry-Go-Round' (1923), 'Greed' (1924) and 'Queen Kelly' (1929). Erich von Stroheim starred in many of his own productions, and the characters he played earned him the title of “The Man You Love to Hate.” Later, he devoted himself to acting alone, starring with Gloria Swanson in Billy Wilder's famous 'Sunset Boulevard' (1950). He spent his last years in France, where he remained active in the film industry until his death.