Paul Verhoeven was born in Unna in 1901. Although his family has its origins in the Netherlands, he is not related to the Dutch director (born 1938) of the same name. He grew up in a humble household with 13 siblings, and first aimed at becoming an architect before focussing on his passion for theatre. He didn’t receive a formal stage training, but took lessons from Dortmund actor Karl Wüstenhagen. He took Verhoeven to Munich, where his talent was recognized by theatre manager Hermine Körner. After engagements in Dresden and Frankfurt, he made it to the renowned Deutsche Theater.
Also in the 1930s, his screen career began. He debuted as a movie actor in “Der Kaiser von Kalifornien” (1936), and only one year later made his first feature film as director: “Die Fledermaus” (1937), an adaptation of Johann Strauß’ eponymous operetta. During the Nazi years, he mainly directed supposedly “unpolitical” entertainment fare, and continued in this genre after the war.
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