New biography of Otto Katz

September 21, 2010

Patrick Skene Catling, writing in the Irish Times, critically reviews a new biography of the man who worked with Willi Münzenberg and Arthur Koestler to organize the International Brigades, and who is said to have inspired the movie Casablanca:

Otto Katz (1895-1952) was a Stalinist agent of first-magnitude international stardom. He was a good-looking, seductively charming opportunist of James Bond savoir faire and adaptability, who was equally at ease among champagne socialists, left-wing intellectuals, publishers and film-makers on both sides of the Atlantic. … Katz was so popular with Hollywood’s liberal intelligentsia, including Lillian Hellman, Peter Lorre, Ernst Lubitsch, David O Selznik, Dorothy Parker and Charlie Chaplin, that he was said to be the model for the heroes of Watch on the Rhine and Casablanca (Victor Laszlo, the Paul Henreid part).

More here.