Leonid Kinskey

Leonid Kinskey (c. 1894[1]or 18 April 1903 – 8 September 1998) was a Russian-born film and television actor who enjoyed a long career. Kinskey is best known for his role as Sascha in the film Casablanca (1942).[2] His last name was sometimes spelled Kinsky.[3]

Leonid Kinskey
as Sascha in Casablanca
Born(1903-04-18)18 April 1903
Died8 September 1998(1998-09-08) (aged 95)
Years active1922–1971
Spouse(s)Tina York (1985–his death)
Iphigenie Castiglioni (1943–1963; her death)
Josephine Tankus (1930–1939; her death)

Life and career

Kinskey was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. He started his career as a mime in various imperial theatres in Russia in the mid 1910s.[4] In 1921, he fled Russia for Germany.[5] He acted on stage in Europe and South America before arriving in New York City from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in January 1924. He joined the road production of Al Jolson's musical Wonder Bar, and in 1926 he made an appearance in the silent film The Great Depression,[5] although his scenes were deleted, before making his appearance in Trouble in Paradise (1932).[2] His looks and accent helped him gain supporting roles in several movies, including the Sylvanian "agitator" in the Marx Bros. film Duck Soup (1933). He told Aljean Harmetz, author of Round Up the Usual Suspects: The Making of Casablanca, that he was cast in his best-known role, Sascha in Casablanca, because he was a drinking buddy of star Humphrey Bogart.[2] He replaced Leo Mostovoy because the latter was deemed not funny enough.[2][6]

Kinskey performed in episodes on no less than three dozen television series between the 1950s and early 1970s. His first appearances on the "small screen" were in 1954 on Passport to Danger, The Spike Jones Show, and Lux Video Theater. Later, in 1962, he portrayed a visiting Soviet dignitary (with most of his dialogue in Russian) in the episode "The Good Will Tour" on the sitcom The Real McCoys.[7] In 1965, Kinskey was also a cast member in the pilot episode of Hogan's Heroes, performing as another Soviet character, who was an allied soldier and fellow prisoner-of-war. He, however, decided not to join the cast when that series went into formal production, for he reportedly "was uncomfortable playing let's-pretend with people in Nazi garb."[8] His final roles on television were in 1971, as a professor on the series Mayberry R.F.D.; a mortician on O'Hara, U.S. Treasury; and as a deli butcher on the sitcom The Chicago Teddy Bears.[7]

Personal life and death

Kinskey married three times, first to Josephine Tankus from 1930 until her death in 1939.[9][10] Four years later he married actress Iphigenie Castiglioni, a union that lasted until her death in 1963.[11] He married for the final time in New York in 1985, then to Tina York, who was 38 years his junior.[5][12] They remained together until 1998, when Kinskey died in Fountain Hills, Arizona at age 95 from complications of a stroke.[3]



  1. "Jan 1924 passenger list stating his age as 30".
  2. Lawrence Van Gelder (12 September 1998). "Leonid Kinskey, 95, Bartender in 'Casablanca'". The New York Times.
  3. Bergan, Ronald (September 14, 1998). "'Why, you crazy Russian'". The Guardian. England, London. p. 15. Retrieved 9 March 2019 via Newspapers.com.
  4. Tsivian, Yuri; Kinskey, Leonid (1999). "Leonid Kinskey, the Hollywood Foreigner". Film History. 11 (2): 175–180. JSTOR 3815321.
  5. Oliver, Myrna (1998). "Leonid Kinskey; Actor in 'Casablanca'", obituary. Los Angeles Times, September 11, 1998. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  6. Leo Mostovoy on IMDb
  7. "Leonid Kinskey," (IMDb). Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  8. "Hogan's Heroes' unceremonious finale comes from the era before TV "endgames"". Retrieved May 25, 2015.
  9. "Naturalisation petition".
  10. "Details about Josephine kinskey".
  11. "Birth date of iphigenie castigloni".
  12. "New York City Marriage Licenses Index, 1950-1995", Leonid Kinskey and Tina York, 1985, Manhattan, New York City Clerk's Office. FamilySearch, archives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
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