Born Hein Van Der Niet, this handsome, deep-voiced leading man debuted onstage at age 14, going on to play leads in Dutch and European productions, in which he was billed as "Fritz Van Dongen." By the late '30s he was a popular matinee idol and screen actor. He moved to Hollywood when World War II broke out; beginning with Enemy Agent (1940) he played leads in numerous Hollywood films, often portraying refugees, anti-Nazi Germans, and Continental lovers. He began playing more mature roles in the late '40s, notably as Papa in I Remember Mama (1948) with Irene Dunne. Having long suffered from phlebitis, in 1945 he had the first of a series of strokes, which eventually ruined his voice; over the next few years he went on to have a heart attack and to require brain surgery. He returned to Europe in the early '50s and appeared in a number of films and plays; but following an injury in a stage accident he retired in 1955. He lived the last two decades of his life confined to his California home. He was married to Dutch actress Marianne Van Dam.