Paulsen, Harald


Paulsen, Harald
(1895-1954)
   Actor. Paulsen is best known as the original Mack the Knife in the world premiere of Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill's Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera). As a teenager Paulsen worked as an apprentice at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg and took acting lessons there from Leopold Jessner. Before his career could get started, however, he was drafted into the German army and served on the Western Front. Soon after his release from military duty, Max Reinhardt hired Paulsen, and by 1922 he had made a name for himself as a comedian. His vocal gifts were so substantial that he sang in some Berlin opera productions during the 1920s, but he also worked in operettas, musical revues, and roles for the debonair man-about-town. His casting as Mack the Knife was therefore logical and ironic, given the goals Brecht and Erich Engel had for the production. They cast him again for the 1930 premiere of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny). Paulsen remained active in both theater and film during the Third Reich, and in 1937 he was named Staatsschauspieler (state actor), marking him as one of the regime's favorites. That did not harm his career after the war, though, for between 1948 and his death he appeared in more than 25 films.

Historical dictionary of German Theatre. . 2006.

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