It's hard to say where I first saw Walter Slezak, if it was in films or television. It may have been on the Batman spoof with Adam West, where he played The Clock King. Slezak was six foot six and on the heavy side when I learned who he was. He had taken to character roles. In his thinner days, his acting career began in silent films. He was in over 100 films and also won a Tony award for best actor in the musical Fanny. He was born in Vienna and had a distinguished voice. Both he and later his daughter starred on the daytime drama, "One Life to Live." Walter Slezak was on the show in the early sixties. His daughter Erika Slezak became a permanent fixture on the show. For those of you familiar with the show, Erika Slezak portrays Victoria Lord Riley Burke Riley Buchanan Buchanan Carpenter Davidson, one of the longest names in soap character history. Walter Slezak played a lot of villains. I'd have to say though that I enjoyed his kinder roles most like that of Maurice Clavell in Come September.
Haven't you seen Come September (1961)? Hilarious comedy starring Rock Hudson. Slezak plays Maurice Clavell, his butler and caretaker of Italian villa that he only frequents once a year for an annual vacation. One particular year, Robert Talbot (played by Rock Hudson) arrives early only to learn that the rest of the year his caretaker has been making money on the side using his home as a 4-star hotel. Complication after complication arise as Slezak tries to keep it a secret and Hudson tries to keep his girlfriend, while falling for another. It's great fun and one of my favorite Walter Slezak roles.
Watch this and then see these other four films.
People Will Talk (1951) Stars Cary Grant and Slezak plays Prof. Barker.
The Yellow Cab Man (1950) Stars Red Skelton and Slezak plays the villainous Dr. Byron Dokstedder.
The Inspector General (1949) Stars Danny Kaye and Slezak plays Yakov Goury.
Bedtime for Bonzo (1951) Stars Ronald Reagan and of course a chimpanzee as Bonzo; Slezak play Prof. Hans Neumann.
*Contributed by: "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Mon, June 26, 2006 / 22:42:06 PST