Emil Jannings was a German actor. He was not only the first actor to win the Academy Award for Best Actor, but also the first person to be presented an Oscar.
He was christened as Theodor Friedrich Emil Janenz in Rorschach, Switzerland, the son of a German mother and an American father. He grew up in Switzerland and in Germany, mainly in Leipzig and Dresden.
Jannings was a theater actor who went into films. He starred in the 1922 film version of Othello and in F. W. Murnau’s The Last Laugh, as a proud but aged hotel doorman who is demoted to a restroom attendant. Jannings worked with Murnau on two other films, playing the title character in Herr Tartüff and Mephistopheles in Faust. He eventually started a career in Hollywood. In 1929 he won the Oscar for two films, The Way of All Flesh and The Last Command.
His Hollywood career came to an end with the advent of talkies; his thick German accent was difficult to understand, and his dialogue was dubbed by another actor in the part-talkie The Patriot, although after Jannings objected, his voice was restored. He returned to Europe, where he starred opposite Marlene Dietrich in the 1930 film The Blue Angel, filmed in English simultaneously with its German version Der blaue Engel.