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‘Judgment at Nuremberg’ actor Maximilian Schell dies at 83

Celebrated Austrian-Swiss actor Maximilian Schell has died earlier today February 1, 2014 at the age of 83.

Austrian-Swiss actor Maximilian Schell has died at the 83.  Shown here attending the Steiger Awards at the Jahrhunderthalle on March 28, 2009, in Bochum, Germany.
Photo by Alex Grimm/Getty Images

Schell made his mark in several World War II films such as “Judgment at Nuremberg” which won him a “Best Actor” Oscar, “The Plot to Assassinate Hitler,” “The Odessa File,” “A Bridge Too Far,” “Cross of Iron,” “The Man in the Glass Booth” and the “Jackboot Mutiny.”

Born in Vienna, Austria on December 8, 1930, Schell was the son of Swiss playwright, novelist, poet and pharmacy owner Hermann Ferdinand Schell and actress Margarethe Noe von Nordberg, who ran an acting school.

Schell said he began his acting career at the tender age of three in Vienna, making his debut in the theatre. Though in 1938 at the age of seven, his family had to flee to Zurich, Switzerland once Hitler annexed Austria. But acting wasn’t his dream. The young Maximilian wanted to be a painter, musician or playwright.

After World War II, Schell attended various universities including the University of Zurich, the University of Munich and lastly the University of Basel, during which he acted professionally in minor parts for modern and classical plays. It is then that he decided that he would give up his studies and take to acting as his vocation.

Schell made his film debut in the role of a deserting officer in a 1955 German anti-war film Kinder, “Mütter und ein General” (“Children, Mothers, and a General,”), which was about “five mothers who confronted a German general at the front line, after learning that their sons, some as young as 15, had been "slated to be cannon fodder on behalf of the Third Reich.”

Maximilian Schell would end up having an impressive 107 acting credits, working right up to his last days, having just finished a 2014 film in post-production called “Les brigands.” Schell’s elder sister Maria Schell, who he was extremely close to, was also an actress, having passed on in 2005. Other siblings included Carl and Immy (Immaculata) Schell.

While in his 50’s, Schell married for the first time in 1985, taking a Russian actress Natalya Andreychenko as his bride, with whom he had a daughter, Nastassja, and divorced in 2005. Schell also recently married German-Croatian operatic soprano Iva Mihanovic in August of 2013.

Per his agent Patricia Baumbauer, Schell died of pneumonia at a hospital in Innsbruck, Austria after having received treatment for a “sudden and serious” illness.