Martin Kosleck (March 24, 1904 – January 15, 1994) was a German film actor, born Nicolaie Yoshkin in Barkotzen in Pomerania. He soon gained a foothold in German cinema and landed a role in Alraune, the noted science fiction horror film directed by Richard Oswald in 1930.
However, like many other German actors, he fled when the Nazis came to power, travelling first to England and then New York, before settling in Hollywood.
Inspired by his deep hatred of the Third Reich, Kosleck would make a career in Hollywood playing villainous Nazis. He went on to appear in more than eighty films and television shows in a 46-year span. Initially, his icy demeanour and piercing stare on screen made him a popular choice to play German villains.
With the end of the Second World War, Nazi roles declined. Having already appeared in Paramount’s 1941 proto-horror Basil Rathbone vehicle, The Mad Doctor, Kosleck then moved into B horror films with aplomb, with roles in Universal’s The Frozen Ghost and The Mummy’s Curse (both starring Lon Chaney Jr., whom Kosleck disliked intensely), House of Horrors and She-Wolf of London.
House of Horrors gave Kosleck his best-remembered role beyond playing Goebbels, as an insane sculptor, Marcel De Lange, who saves a disfigured man (Rondo Hatton) from drowning. Marcel takes the unfortunate man into his care, making him the subject of his next sculpture and declaring it his best creation. But as negative reviews begin to break Marcel’s last nerve, he has the Creeper (as he’s known) start killing the critics…
With fewer film opportunities presenting themselves, Kosleck returned to New York City and appeared in Broadway plays. He would also appear on television as guests in episodes of numerous shows such as Boris Karloff’s Thriller, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Outer Limits, Batman, and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
However, it is as the mad scientist Professor Peter Bartell in the stylish, gory, and ahead-of-its-time Long Island-lensed The Flesh Eaters (1962) that Kosleck will best be remembered by horror aficionados.
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