Slezak, Walter

Alternative names

Hide Profile

Walter Slezak was born to Leo and Elsa (Wertheim) Slezak on May 3, 1902, in Vienna, Austria.

Mr. Slezak was known as an actor, singer, and writer. He made his New York City stage debut in 1930. He made his film debut in 1942. Mr. Slezak married Johanna Van Rijn on October 10, 1943. Mr. Slezak died on April 22, 1983.

From the description of Walter Slekak papers, 1905-1983. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122580327

Walter Slezak, son of the operatic tenor Leo Slezak and the actress Elsa (Wertheim) Slezak, was born in Vienna, Austria, on May 3, 1902. He began a film and stage career in Berlin in 1921. Coming to the United States in 1930 in the musical comedy Meet My Sister, Slezak played many roles in the live theater during the next four decades - his performances on Broadway as Joseph in the comedy My 3 Angels [1953], and as Panisse in the musical Fanny [1954], were probably his greatest triumphs. Between 1942 and 1976 he appeared in dozens of movies - usually typecast in character roles because of his portliness. Slezak also appeared in numerous radio and television productions.

In 1959, at New York's Metropolitan Opera, Walter Slezak made his operatic debut as Szupan in Johann Strauss' The Gypsy Baron - exactly 50 years after his father's Metropolitan debut in Verdi's Otello . In 1977, Slezak wrote a unique "recipe-plus-travelogue" book called Mein Magen geht fremd [ My Stomach Goes Abroad ]. Walter Slezak died on April 22, 1983.

Leo Slezak was born in Moravia on August 18, 1873. Making Vienna his home base, Slezak forged a highly successful international career as an operatic tenor - known especially for his Verdi and Wagner roles. Slezak also became a celebrated interpreter of German Lieder, and in later life appeared as a character actor in German and Austrian films. A prankster and wit, Slezak's irrepressible sense of humor was revealed in his four volumes of memoirs. After his death on June 1, 1946, other literary works by or about him appeared, including two that linked him with his son Walter: What Time's the Next Swan? [New York, 1962], Walter's book of memoirs that included many anecdotes about his father's life and career; and Mein lieber Bub: Briefe eines besorgten Vaters [Munich, 1966], Walter's selection of letters written to him by his father.

Johanna Van Rijn Slezak married Walter on October 10, 1943. In correspondence from friends, she is often referred to by her nickname, Kaasi. The Slezaks had three children: Ingrid Slezak, oldest child of Walter and Johanna, was born ca. 1944; Erika Slezak (also known as "Ricki" or "Rickie") was born ca. 1946; Leo Lauritz Slezak was born in 1948.

From the guide to the Walter Slezak papers, 1905-1983, (The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Ellis, Michael, 1917-. Michael Ellis papers, 1937-1985. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn News and Information Services (University of Michigan) Faculty and Staff Files, 1944-2005, 1960-1995 Bentley Historical Library , University of Michigan
creatorOf Herbert, F. Hugh (Frederick Hugh), 1897-1958. Studio one-- The Vintage years / by F. Hugh Herbert. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
creatorOf Slezak, Leo, 1873-1946. Correspondence to Alma Mahler, 1926-1931, n. d. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
referencedIn Abe Burrows collection of sound recordings [sound recording] The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
creatorOf Katkov, Norman. Studio one-- Portrait of a citizen / written especially for Studio one by Norman Katkov. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
referencedIn Spewack, Samuel and Bella. Papers, ca.1920-1980. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn The Railroad hour, radio program [sound recording], 1948-1954 The New York Public Library. Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound.
referencedIn Nicolas Slonimsky Collection, 1873-1997, (bulk 1920-1990) Music Division Library of Congress
creatorOf Walter Slezak papers, 1905-1983 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Webster, Margaret, 1905-1972. Margaret Webster papers, 1837-1974 (bulk 1937-1970). Library of Congress
referencedIn Souvenir programs for theatrical productions, 1906-2005. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
referencedIn Samuel and Bella Spewack Papers, ca.1920-1980 Columbia University. Rare Book and Manuscript Library,
referencedIn Vera Zorina papers, 1910-2001 (inclusive), 1933-2001 (bulk). Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Day, Lillian, b. 1893. "Studio one" -- "Collector's item" / by Lillian Day and Alfred Golden. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
referencedIn Margaret Webster Papers, 1837-1974, (bulk 1937-1970) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Beuf, Carlo, 1893-. Studio one-- The innocence of Pastor Muller / by Carlo Beuf. Bowling Green State University, BGSU Libraries
creatorOf Slezak, Walter, 1902-1983. Walter Slekak papers, 1905-1983. New York Public Library System, NYPL
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Adolf Robinson person
associatedWith Alec Wilder person
associatedWith Alfred Neumann person
associatedWith Alma Mahler-Werfel person
associatedWith Andrew Carnegie person
associatedWith Arturo Toscanini person
associatedWith Barbara Tuchman person
associatedWith Brooks Atkinson person
associatedWith Bruno Walter person
associatedWith Burrows, Abe, 1910-1985 person
associatedWith Carl Zuckmayer person
associatedWith Charles Boyer person
associatedWith Clara Louise Kellogg person
associatedWith Cologne Opera House corporateBody
associatedWith Danny Kaye person
associatedWith Dorothy Parker person
correspondedWith Ellis, Michael, 1917- person
associatedWith Enrico Caruso person
associatedWith Erich Wolfgang Korngold person
associatedWith Ernst Lubitsch person
associatedWith Ethel Merman person
associatedWith Eugen d'Albert person
associatedWith Eugene Ormandy person
associatedWith Ezio Pinza person
associatedWith Friedrich Hollander person
associatedWith George S. Kaufman person
associatedWith Geraldine Farrar person
associatedWith Gower Champion person
associatedWith Harold Rome person
associatedWith Hotel Majestic corporateBody
associatedWith Jean Kerr person
associatedWith Jerome Kern person
associatedWith Katharine Cornell person
associatedWith Kerr, Jean person
associatedWith Kerr, Jean. person
associatedWith Lehmann, Lotte person
associatedWith Lehmann, Lotte. person
associatedWith Lillian Hellman person
associatedWith Lotte Lehmann person
associatedWith Lynn Fontanne person
associatedWith Madame Du Barry person
associatedWith Mahler, Alma, 1879-1964. person
associatedWith Mary Martin person
associatedWith Miklos Rozsa person
associatedWith Moss Hart person
associatedWith Neumann, Alfred person
associatedWith Neumann, Alfred. person
associatedWith Noel Coward person
associatedWith Oscar Hammerstein II person
associatedWith Peter Lorre person
associatedWith Phyllis McGinley person
associatedWith Railroad Hour Radio Program corporateBody
associatedWith Richard Rodgers person
associatedWith Scott Carpenter person
associatedWith Sidney Sheldon person
associatedWith Sinclair Lewis person
associatedWith Slezak, Leo, 1873-1946. person
correspondedWith Slonimsky, Nicolas, 1894-1995 person
associatedWith S. N. Behrman person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel, 1899-1971 person
associatedWith Spewack, Samuel and Bella. person
associatedWith University of Michigan. News and Information Services. corporateBody
associatedWith Walter Kerr person
associatedWith Walter M. Schirra person
correspondedWith Webster, Margaret, 1905-1972. person
associatedWith William Enguick person
associatedWith William Howard Taft person
correspondedWith Zorina, Vera. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Theater--United States


Birth 1902-05-03

Death 1983-04-21




Ark ID: w6st8jq9

SNAC ID: 57387966