Wilhelm von Brincken: German actor (1881 - 1946) | Biography
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Wilhelm von Brincken
German actor

Wilhelm von Brincken

Wilhelm von Brincken
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro German actor
A.K.A. Wilhelm von Brincken
Was Actor
From Germany United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 27 May 1881, Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Death 18 January 1946, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A. (aged 64 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


Wilhelm von Brincken (May 27, 1881 – January 18, 1946), also known as Wilhelm L. von Brincken, William Vaughn, William von Brinken and William Vaughan, was a German spy during World War I, who would go on to become an American character actor of the silent and sound film eras.

Early life

Von Brincken was born in Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein on May 27, 1881. He was a reservist in the German Army, and he came to the United States as a military attaché to their embassy in Washington D.C., sometime around 1910. Once here he met his first wife, Alice M Roedel; they married and would have two children: Carl von Brincken (1911–1911) and Philip Morgan Roedel (christened Philip Roedel von Brincken) (1913–1985). Carl died several hours after his birth.

Wilhelm Von Brinken made his debut acting in American films in The Redemption of David Corson (1914).

Espionage activity

In 1915, he was transferred to the west coast, and assigned to the consulate in San Francisco. While working at the San Francisco consulate, he was arrested at the beginning of World War I on espionage charges, due to his alleged involvement in a bomb-plot with his co-conspirators, C.C. Crowley, who worked at the German Consulate and an agent of a German shipping line, Robert Capelle. In February 1916, he was indicted, along with dozens of others, including the German Consul General and his vice-Consul, Franz Bopp and Baron E.H. von Schack, respectively. He would be convicted, and sentenced to prison, spending his time in Alcatraz Prison and McNeil Island Penitentiary.

Film career

After his release from prison in 1920, von Brincken would become an American citizen in 1921. A fellow German ex-patriot, Erich Von Stroheim, included him in a group of former German military men who he invited to Hollywood to work on films. Due to his military background, he would be called upon as military expert as a technical advisor on films, including the Academy Award winning All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).

Von Brincken returned to acting in Von Stroheim's 1928 film, Queen Kelly, starring Gloria Swanson. Over the course of his career, he would appear under several different variants of his name, such as von Brinken, as well as going under Anglicized versions of his name, such as William Vaughn and Vaughan, when it was politically correct to do so. In 1929 and 1930 he had small roles in several films before receiving featured roles such as in the Eddie Foy and Irene Dunne film, Leathernecking, and playing the German ace, Baron von Richtofen in Howard Hughes' 1930 classic, Hells Angels. Most of the rest of the 1930s would see him appear in numerous films, in both minor and featured roles.

With the outbreak of hostilities in Europe in 1939, von Brincken was often cast in the role of a Nazi, such as in 1939's Confessions of a Nazi Spy;, the Fay Wray film Navy Secrets (1939); and 1941's So Ends Our Night, which stars Fredric March, Margaret Sullavan, Frances Dee, and Glenn Ford. Not only did he appear in dramas and suspense films, but he would also do comedies such as The Ritz Brothers' 1939 film, Pack Up Your Troubles, and Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942), starring Cary Grant and Ginger Rogers.


(Per AFI database)

  • The Redemption of David Corson (1914)
  • The Brute (1914)
  • The Man Who Beat Dan Dolan (1915)
  • The Prince of Pilsen (1926)
  • Queen Kelly (1928)
  • Condemned (1929)
  • General Crack (1930)
  • Hell's Angels (1930)
  • Leathernecking (1930)
  • Inside the Lines (1930)
  • The Lonesome Trail (1930)
  • Mamba (1930)
  • Three Faces East (1930)
  • Possessed (1931)
  • The Unholy Garden (1931)
  • Command Performance (1931)
  • A Passport to Hell (1932)
  • Six Hours to Live (1932)
  • The Night Club Lady (1932)
  • Shanghai Madness (1933)
  • Private Jones (1933)
  • Crimson Romance (1934)
  • Fugitive Road (1934)
  • Flirting with Danger (1934)
  • King Kelly of the U.S.A. (1934)
  • Viva Villa (1934)
  • The Gay Bride (1934)
  • I'll Tell the World (1934)
  • The Melody Lingers On (1935)
  • Dracula's Daughter (1936)
  • Charlie Chan at the Olympics (1937)
  • Thank You, Mr. Moto (1937)
  • They Gave Him a Gun (1937)
  • The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
  • Crack-Up (1937)
  • Espionage (1937)
  • Wallaby Jim of the Islands (1937)
  • Bulldog Drummond in Africa (1938)
  • The Mexicali Kid (1938)
  • Confessions of a Nazi Spy (1939)
  • Conspiracy (1939)
  • Panama Patrol (1939)
  • Navy Secrets (1939)
  • Pack Up Your Troubles (1939)
  • Espionage Agent (1939)
  • Four Sons (1940)
  • Dr. Ehrlich's Magic Bullet (1940)
  • Hidden Enemy (1940)
  • The Deadly Game (1941)
  • Man Hunt (1941)
  • So Ends Our Night (1941)
  • Underground (1941)
  • Miss V from Moscow (1942)
  • Once Upon a Honeymoon (1942)
  • Berlin Correspondent (1942)
  • Counter-Espionage (1942)
  • Desperate Journey (1942)
  • Joan of Ozark (1942)
  • Joan of Paris (1942)
  • The Navy Comes Through (1942)
  • Reunion in France (1942)
  • Where Trails End (1942)
  • A Yank in Libya (1942)
  • Chetniks! (1943)
  • The Purple V (1943)
  • The Boy from Stalingrad (1943)
  • Background to Danger (1943)
  • Assignment in Brittany (1943)
  • Action in the North Atlantic (1943)
  • The Cross of Lorraine (1944)
  • The Hitler Gang (1944)
  • Around the World (1944)

Personal life

In late 1914, Von Brincken remarried to socialite Milo Abercrombie. She divorced him during his imprisonment and legally changed her and their two children's last name to Abercrombie.

In January 1946, while in New York City, von Brincken would suffer a ruptured artery. He was rushed to St. Vincent's Hospital, where he died on January 18, 1946. He would be buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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