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'Casablanca' star lives in the shadow of his character

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Today Henreid's daughter, Monika, raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Brentwood, shuttles from the US to Vienna to reconstruct her father's life on film – a narrative itself synonymous with the 20th century whirlwinds that tossed European artists and intellectuals around like the characters in Casablanca itself.

"He played heroic screen characters but often got slapped around in life, so he constantly tried to reinvent himself," says Ms. Henreid, whose father died in 1992. "People think he is French. No one can pronounce his name. He is known as Victor Laszlo, but he spent much of his life in L.A., working and directing. He gave Richard Dreyfuss his first film job; he discovered Burt Reynolds. But it [being typecast] took a toll."

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Henreid came from an aristocratic Viennese family – his banker father was knighted, his mother owned a shop on the Herrengasse. He was twice blacklisted in Europe. He hung out with film director Otto Preminger and studied at the Max Reinhardt center. But in 1934 he refused to sign a Nazi loyalty oath that was part of a lucrative Berlin film contract. He escaped to London, worked on stage, but became a deportable alien after the Anchluss in 1938, when Hitler annexed Austria. Desperate to flee to America, he despaired when authorities told him the Austrian émigré list was full.

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