Myths abound about Schreck, who
apparently never appeared on the set without his make-up. His surname
means 'fright' in German, and is clearly a stage name, but it is claimed that
at least at the time nobody knew his true identity. This has led to many
rumours about him, from stories of him being a criminal on the run, to those
who believe that he was a vampire, a rumour which became the basis for
Elias Merhige's 2000 film Shadow Of The Vampire.
What we know of him today is but a skeletol image him. There is no flesh; just the barest facts.
Born in Berlin, he joined Reinhardt's group of Germany's most talented actors. Unsurprisingly, given his appearance, his parts were mostly weirdly horror characters. Through Reinhardt, the director Murnau got to know about Schreck and sa his potential. Consequently, he cast him as Graf (Count) Orlok in Nosferatu; Eine Symphonie Des Grauens. His place in the pantheon of screen gods was thus assured.
He was married to the actress Fanny Schreck from 1910 until his death in 1936 at the age of 57. His wife outlived him by 15 years.