Actor Mischa Auer

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 Auer’s mother was Nadine Pelikan. His father died when he was three, and he was taken in by his grandfather. 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. She, however, died of typhus. Auer was able to contact his grandfather, who brought the teenager to the United States in August 1920.


Auer began performing on the stage in the 1920s in Bertha Kalich’s Thalia Yiddish Theater, then moved to Hollywood, where he first appeared in 1928 in Something Always Happens. 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.

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. Prior to that, he had been mostly playing villains. He stated, “That one role made a comic out of me.” From then on, he was regularly cast in zany comedy roles. 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. 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). 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.

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.

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, with 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.

Selected filmography

  • Something Always Happens (1928) as Clark
  • Marquis Preferred (1929) as Albert
  • Why Be Good? (1929) as Man Dancing at The Boiler (uncredited)
  • The Studio Murder Mystery (1929) as Grant’s Secretary (uncredited)
  • The Mighty (1929) as Hood (uncredited)
  • Guilty? (1930) as Minor Role (uncredited)
  • The Benson Murder Case (1930) as Albert Brecker (uncredited)
  • Paramount on Parade (1930) as Thug (Murder Will Out) (uncredited)
  • Inside the Lines (1930) as Amahdi
  • Shooting Straight (1930) as Frenchie (uncredited)
  • Just Imagine (1930) as B-36
  • The Royal Bed (1931) as Grecian Ambassador (uncredited)
  • No Limit (1931) as Romeo
  • Command Performance (1931) as Duke Charles
  • It Pays to Advertise (1931) as Man Putting Sign on Car (uncredited)
  • King of the Wild (1931) as Prince Dakka, escaped lunatic
  • The Drums of Jeopardy (1931) as Peter
  • The Spy (1931) as Man in Cafe
  • Always Goodbye (1931) as Mechanic (uncredited)
  • Women of All Nations (1931) as Hassan’s Aide (uncredited)
  • Women Love Once (1931) as Oscar
  • The Lady from Nowhere (1931) as Rigo
  • The Unholy Garden (1931) as Prince Nicolai Poliakoff
  • The Yellow Ticket (1931) as Melchior
  • Working Girls (1931) as Elsie’s Boyfriend (uncredited)
  • Mata Hari (1931) as Firing Squad Victim (uncredited)
  • Delicious (1931) as Mischa
  • The Monster Walks (1932) as Hanns Krug
  • Murder at Dawn (1932) as Henry
  • Sinister Hands (1932) as Swami Yomurda
  • Arsène Lupin (1932) as Louvre Tour Guide (uncredited)
  • Midnight Patrol (1932) as Dummy Black
  • The Last of the Mohicans (1932) as General Montcalm
  • No Greater Love (1932) as Rabbi
  • Beauty Parlor (1932) as Herman Bauer
  • Almost Married (1932) as Russian Policeman (uncredited)
  • Drifting Souls (1932) as Skeets
  • The Western Code (1932) as Chapman
  • Scarlet Dawn (1932) as Sergei (uncredited)
  • Call Her Savage (1932) as Agitator in Restaurant (uncredited)
  • The Unwritten Law (1932) as Abu Zeyd
  • The Sign of the Cross (1932) as Christian in Dungeon (uncredited)
  • Rasputin and the Empress (1932) as Butler Pouring Drinks at Party (uncredited)
  • Dangerously Yours (1933) as Kassim
  • Clear All Wires! (1933) as Arab Leader (uncredited)
  • Sucker Money (1933) as Swami Yomurda
  • The Intruder (1933) as Wild Man
  • Gabriel Over the White House (1933) as Mr. Thieson (uncredited)
  • Infernal Machine (1933) as Klein (uncredited)
  • The Flaming Signal (1933) as Manu—High Priest
  • I Loved You Wednesday (1933) as Piano Accompanist (uncredited)
  • Corruption (1933) as Volkov
  • Storm at Daybreak (1933) as Assassin (uncredited)
  • Tarzan the Fearless (1933) as Eltar, High Priest of Zar
  • The Way to Love (1933) as Songwriter at Piano (uncredited)
  • After Tonight (1933) as Adjutant Lehan
  • Cradle Song (1933) as Village Priest
  • Girl Without a Room (1933) as Walksky
  • Moulin Rouge (1934) as Sculptor (scenes deleted)
  • The Crosby Case (1934) as DeCobra (uncredited)
  • Wharf Angel (1934) as Sadik
  • The Woman Condemned (1934) as Dr. Wagner
  • Viva Villa! (1934) as Military Attaché (uncredited)
  • The Trumpet Blows (1934) (uncredited)
  • Change of Heart (1934) as Smith (uncredited)
  • Stamboul Quest (1934), as Ameel Roberts, Ali Bey’s assistant
  • Beyond the Law (1934) as Tully
  • Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back (1934) as Hassan
  • Student Tour (1934) as Sikh Cop (uncredited)
  • Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1935) as Captured Afridi (uncredited)
  • Mystery Woman (1935) as Dmitri
  • Clive of India (1935) as King Suraj Ud Dowlah
  • Murder in the Fleet (1935) as Kamchukan consul
  • The Adventures of Rex and Rinty (1935, Serial) as Tanaga [Chs. 1, 4, 8, 10-12]
  • The Crusades (1935) as Monk
  • Anna Karenina (1935) as Mahotin (uncredited)
  • Condemned to Live (1935) as Zan
  • I Dream Too Much (1935) as Darcy’s Pianist
  • We’re Only Human (1935) as William ‘Lefty’ Berger (uncredited)
  • Tough Guy (1936) as Chi
  • Here Comes Trouble (1936) (uncredited)
  • The House of a Thousand Candles (1936) as Victor Demetrius
  • Sons o’ Guns (1936) as German Spy
  • One Rainy Afternoon (1936) as Leading man
  • The Princess Comes Across (1936) as Inspector Morevitch
  • My Man Godfrey (1936) as Carlo
  • The Gay Desperado (1936) as Diego
  • Winterset (1936) as A radical
  • College Holiday (1936) as Ticket Taker at Door (uncredited)
  • Three Smart Girls (1936) as Count Arisztid
  • That Girl from Paris (1936) as Butch
  • Top of the Town (1937) as Hamlet
  • We Have Our Moments (1937) as Capt. Enrico Mussetti
  • Pick a Star (1937) as Rinaldo Lopez
  • Marry the Girl (1937) as Dimitri Kyeff
  • It’s All Yours (1937) as Baron Rene de Montigny
  • Walter Wanger’s Vogues of 1938 (1937) as Prince Muratov
  • One Hundred Men and a Girl (1937) as Michael Borodoff
  • Merry-Go-Round of 1938 (1937) as Mischa
  • Prescription for Romance (1937) as Count Sandor
  • The Rage of Paris (1938) as Mike Lebedovich
  • You Can’t Take It with You (1938) as Potap Kolenkhov
  • Service de Luxe (1938) as Serge Bebenko
  • Little Tough Guys in Society (1938) as Dr. Trenkle
  • Sweethearts (1938) as Leo Kronk
  • East Side of Heaven (1939) as Nicky
  • Unexpected Father (1939) as Boris Bebenko
  • Destry Rides Again (1939) as Boris Callahan
  • Alias the Deacon (1940) as Andre
  • Sandy Is a Lady (1940) as Felix Lobo Smith
  • Public Deb No. 1 (1940) as Grisha
  • Spring Parade (1940) as Gustav
  • Margie (1940) as Gomez
  • Seven Sinners (1940) as Sasha Mencken
  • Trail of the Vigilantes (1940) as Bolo
  • The Flame of New Orleans (1941) as Zolotov
  • Cracked Nuts (1941) as Boris Kabikoff
  • Hold That Ghost (1941) as Gregory
  • Sing Another Chorus (1941) as Stanislaus
  • Moonlight in Hawaii (1941) as ‘Clipper’ Canovan
  • Hellzapoppin’ (1941) as Pepi
  • Don’t Get Personal (1942) as Stainslaus Noodnick a.k.a. Charlie
  • Twin Beds (1942) as Nicolai Cherupin
  • Around The World (1943) as Himself
  • Lady in the Dark (1944) as Russell Paxton
  • Up in Mabel’s Room (1944) as Boris
  • A Royal Scandal (1945) as Captain Sukov
  • Brewster’s Millions (1945) as Michael Michaelovich
  • And Then There Were None (1945) as Prince Nikita Starloff
  • Sentimental Journey (1946) as Gregory Petrovich Rogozhin
  • She Wrote the Book (1946) as Joe
  • For You I Die (1947) as Alec Shaw
  • Sofia (1948) as Ali Imagu
  • A Night of Fame (1949) as Bernard Stork
  • Vivere a sbafo (1949)
  • Snow White and the Seven Thieves (1949) as Mirko (Dr. Lebovich)
  • Song of Paris (1952) as Comte Marcel de Sarliac
  • Escalier de service (1954) as Nicolas Pouchkoff
  • School for Love (1955) as Berger
  • Frou-Frou (1955) as Grand Duke Alexis
  • L’impossible Monsieur Pipelet (1955) as The unsuccessful writer, a lodger
  • Mr. Arkadin (1955) as the Professor
  • La pícara molinera (1955) as Pascual – el corregidor
  • Thirteen at the Table (1955) as Badabof
  • Naughty Girl (1956) as Igor the ballet master
  • Trois de la Canebière (1956) as Garopoulos
  • Mannequins de Paris (1956) as Yaschlik
  • Plucking the Daisy (1956) as Alexis the taxi driver (uncredited)
  • The Monte Carlo Story (1956) as Hector, the Maitre D’
  • La polka des menottes (1957) as Charles Magne
  • Nathalie (1957) as Cyril Boran
  • Tabarin (1958) as Boris
  • Le tombeur (1958) as M. Pedro Olivaro
  • Sacrée Jeunesse (1958) as Prof. Koranoff
  • A Dog, a Mouse, and a Sputnik (1958) as Professor Papov
  • We Joined the Navy (1962) as Colonel & President
  • The King’s Breakfast (1963, Short) as Master of the king’s music
  • Les femmes d’abord (1963) as Le baron Lionel de Balconi
  • Cleopazza (1964) as Produttore Strombic
  • Queste pazze pazze donne (1964) as The Psychiatrist
  • Clémentine chérie (1964) as Le décorateur
  • I due mafiosi (1964) as Mischa
  • What Ever Happened to Baby Toto? (1964) as Count Mischa
  • The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t (1966) as Jonathan, the elf foreman
  • Drop Dead Darling (1966) as Romeo
  • Per amore… per magia… (1967) as Magrebì, Grand Duke of Forilarì (final film role)
  • External Links

    Actor Mischa Auer – Wikipedia

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