DESSAUER, LEOPOLD (DESSOIR, LUDWIG):
German actor; born at Posen Dec. 15, 1810; died Dec. 30, 1874, in Berlin. Dessauer, who was known during his stage career as "Dessoir," was the son of a Jewish merchant. He made his début in the theater of his native town in 1825, playing Nanky in Körner's "Toni." Then he traveled about the country, appearing at Coburg, Schönebeck, Wriezen, Krossen, Wiesbaden, and Mayence, eventually playing Tell at Potsdam. This was the real beginning of his career, and in 1834 he went to the Stadttheater, Leipsic, where, in the following year, he married the leading woman, Theresa Reimann. The union proved an unhappy one, and in 1836 Dessauer obtained a divorce and left Leipsic for the Stadttheater, Breslau, where he remained until 1837. Two years of starring followed at Prague, Brünn, Vienna (Burgtheater), and Budapest, after which he succeeded Devrient at Karlsruhe. In 1847 he went to Berlin, where he played, with few interruptions, until July 10, 1872. In 1853 he appeared in London.
Dessauer was by many considered a greater artist than Dawison, whose most serious rival he was. The former, it is true, was handicapped by lack of figure, looks, and, to some extent, voice; yet so considerable was his talent that he was among the foremost Shakespearian actors. His Othello—first played at Berlin Oct. 6, 1849—Lear, Shylock, Hamlet, Antony, Brutus, Coriolanus, King John, Macduff, and Iachimo were classical creations. Scarcely less clever were his Bolingbroke, Uriel Acosta, Faust, Tasso, Alba, Gessler, Narciss, Caligula ("Fechter von Ravenna"), Louis XI. ("Gringoire"), Perin ("Donna Diana"), and Marinelli ("Emilia Galotti").
Dessauer's life was greatly embittered by his marital misfortunes, for his second wife, Helene Pfeffer, whom he married in 1844, became insane on the death of their child.
- Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie, v. 75-77;
- E. M. Oettinger, Prachtalbum für Theater und Musik, vol. v.;
- Entsch, Bühnen Album, 1876, pp. 173-179.