Because his name translated as "Terror," there was an ongoing rumor that German actor Max Schreck was actually another actor named Alfred Abel, working under a pseudonym. In fact, Max Schreck did exist; he was married to popular actress Fanny Norman and enjoyed a lengthy stage career before entering films in 1921. Though he was active well into the sound era, his most celebrated role remained that of the desiccated vampire Nosferatu in the 1922 F.W. Murnau production of the same name. So influential was this landmark performance that, in 1979, Klaus Kinski copied Schreck's makeup and mannerisms to the nth degree in Werner Herzog's remake of Nosferatu; in addition, the double-crossing villain played by Christopher Walken in Batman Returns (1992) was named Max Schreck, as dubious an honor if there ever was one.
by Hal Erickson biography