Schell's agent, Patricia Baumbauer, said on Saturday he
died overnight at a hospital in Innsbruck following a "sudden and serious
illness," the Austria Press Agency reported.
It was only his second Hollywood role, as defence
attorney Hans Rolfe in Stanley Kramer's classic Judgment at Nuremberg, that earned him wide international acclaim.
Schell's impassioned but unsuccessful defence of four
Nazi judges on trial for sentencing innocent victims to death won him the 1961
Academy Award for best actor.
Schell had first played Rolfe in a 1959 episode of the
television programme Playhouse 90.
Despite being type-cast for numerous Nazi-era films,
Schell's acting performances in the mid-1970s also won him renewed popular
acclaim, earning him a best actor Oscar nomination for The Man in the Glass Booth and a supporting actor nomination for
his performance alongside Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave and Jason Robards in Julia.
The son of Swiss playwright Hermann Ferdinand Schell and
Austrian stage actress Noe von Nordberg, Schell was born in Vienna on 8 December
1930 and raised in Switzerland after his family fled Germany's annexation of
Schell followed in the footsteps of his older sister
Maria and brother Carl, making his stage debut in 1952. He then appeared in a
number of German films before relocating to Hollywood in 1958.
By then, Maria Schell was already an international film
star, winning the best actress award at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival for her
performance in The Last Bridge.
Maximilian made his Hollywood debut in Edward Dmytryk's The Young Lions, a World War II drama
starring Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift and Dean Martin.
Schell later worked as a producer, starting with an
adaptation of Franz Kafka's The Castle,
and as a director.
adapted from the Igor Turgenev novella — which Schell wrote, produced, directed
and starred in — was nominated for an Oscar in the best foreign film category
another movie under Schell's direction and production, received the same
nomination three years later.
Perhaps Schell's most significant film as a director was
his 1984 documentary on Marlene Dietrich, Marlene,
which was nominated for a best documentary Oscar.
Dietrich allowed herself to be recorded but refused to be
filmed, bringing out the most in Schell's talent to penetrate images and
Schell was also a highly successful concert pianist and
conductor, performing with such luminaries as Claudio Abbado and Leonard
Bernstein, and with orchestras in Berlin and Vienna.
In the 1990s, Schell made appearances in films including The Freshman, Telling Lies in America and Deep
In 1992, he
received a Golden Globe for his supporting role as Lenin alongside Robert Duvall
in the 1992 HBO miniseries Stalin.
In a documentary entitled My Sister Maria, Schell portrayed his loving relationship with his
sister, who died in 2005.
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