The two character actors who specialized in portraying Russians during Hollywood’s golden age were Mischa Auer and Leonid Kinskey.
Actually, they were both natives of St. Petersburg, Russia, born two years apart — Kinskey was the younger of the pair. (He died at 95 in 1998; Auer expired younger, at the age of 61 in 1967.)
Both compiled voluminous resumes; Auer claimed more than 175 movie and tv credits while Kinskey racked up nearly 130. Both started their careers in the late Twenties or early Thirties, and worked steadily for four decades.
In short these two gifted working character actors knew their stuff. They monopolized a unique comedic specialty of classic Hollywood.
Granted, they are not household names. But we suspect you already know a fair amount about each. We ask: what more do you know about them?
Our Quiz today is necessarily broken up into two parts, three questions each. Here we go:
Question 1) Auer most famously won his one and only Oscar nomination thanks to his performance in which one of the following titles? a) 1938’s You Can’t Take It With You; b) 1935’s The Lives of a Bengal Lancer; c) 1937’s One Hundred Men and a Girl; or d) 1936’s My Man Godfrey.
Question 2) One Auer’s most popular pictures today (see below) is the one he made in the Fifties directed by none other than Orson Welles. Can you name it?
Question 3) Before becoming an actor, Auer made occasional appearances as (a) a musician; b) a circus acrobat; c) Radio Free Europe radio broadcaster; or d) none of the above.
Question 1) Kinskey was most famous playing the character named Sascha, an amorous bartender at Rick’s in 1942’s Casablanca. How did he get the part? a) Because of was funnier than the actor first considered for the role; b) Because he was a drinking buddy of star Humphrey Bogart; c) Because he was friendly with studio boss Jack Warner; d) None of the above.
Question 2) Amazingly, this Russian-born actor introduced the song, I’m an Old Cowhand From The Rio Grande, in the 1936 film Rhythm On The Range. Which one of the following helped him deliver the song? a) Georgie Jessel; b) Gene Autry; c) William Boyd; or d) Bing Crosby.
Question 3) Kinskey was in line to play a principal part in the Sixties tv series, Hogan’s Heroes. Yet, he back out and turned the role down. Why?