Paul Graetz was one of the biggest male stars of the Weimar cabaret era. He was born on July 2nd 1890 in Glogau, in the west of Poland.
He made his acting debut in 1911 at the Neuen Theater in Frankfurt am Main and in 1916 joined the Deutschen Theater in Berlin. His first production was ‘The Merchant Of Venice’ directed by Max Rheinhardt, with whom he was to have a long association.
In 1919 he was one of the founding ensemble of Max Rheinhardt’s newly revived ‘Schall Und Rauch’ cabaret in the basement of the Grosses Schauspielhaus , performing songs and comic monologues by Kurt Tucholsky and Walter Mehring. The political and literary nature of ‘Schall Und Rauch’ proved unsustainable and it lasted just a little over a year.
Paul Graetz’ career, however, was blossoming and in 1920 he made his film debut in ‘Sumurum’ a silent movie directed by Ernst Lubitsch.
By 1925, he had left the Deutschen Theater and was working successfully as a freelance stage and film actor, and as a cabaret artist was a regular performer at the Kadeko.He made a total of 44 films between 1920 and 1936 and, in 1930, worked again with Max Rheinhardt on a stage production of ‘The Tales Of Hoffmann’ at the Grosses Schauspielhaus in Berlin.
In 1933 he fled Berlin for London where he starred alongside, a then unknown, Errol Flynn in ‘Murder at Monte Carlo’ in 1934 and in the title role in ‘Mr Cohen Takes A Walk’ in 1935. This role took him to Hollywood, but not to the success he hoped for.
He made just two more movies before his untimely death on February 16th 1937, aged just 46.
He has a star on the Cabaret Walk of Fame in Mainz.