George Tabori, 93; playwright took on German anti-Semitism

From the Associated Press

Hungarian-born playwright and director George Tabori, a legend in Germany’s postwar theater world whose avant-garde works confronted anti-Semitism, has died in Berlin, the Berliner Ensemble said Tuesday. He was 93.

Tabori, who as recently as three years ago considered returning to the stage to play the title role in Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” died Monday in his apartment, the Berliner Ensemble said, noting that friends and family were with him in his final days. No cause of death was given.

Born into a Jewish family in Budapest on May 24, 1914, Tabori fled in 1936 to London, where he started working for the British Broadcasting Corp. and became a British citizen. His father and other family members were killed at Auschwitz.

Tabori moved to Hollywood in the 1950s and worked as a scriptwriter, most notably co-writing the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s 1953 film, “I Confess.”


Tabori’s friends in the German exile community in Southern California included author Thomas Mann, film director Lion Feuchtwanger and Bertolt Brecht, the playwright he came to regard as his mentor.

Tabori moved to Germany in the 1970s and launched a theater career that included acting, directing and writing.

He used sharp wit and humor in his plays to examine the relationship between Germany and the Jews, as well as to attack anti-Semitism.

Among his best-known works are “Mein Kampf,” set in the Viennese hostel where Adolf Hitler lived from 1910 to 1913 and staged by the Actors Gang in Los Angeles in 1994, and the “Goldberg Variations,” both dark farces that poke fun at the Nazis.

“Tabori’s humanity and wisdom were unique in the world of theater,” Klaus Bachler, director of Vienna’s leading Burgtheater, where many of Tabori’s works were staged, told Austrian ORF state television.

Tabori is survived by his wife and three children.