Philip Dorn

Philip Dorn (born Hein van der Niet, 30 September 1901 – 9 May 1975), sometimes billed as Frits van Dongen[1] (his screen name for German films prior to World War II),[2] was a Dutch actor who had a career in Hollywood. He was best known for portraying the father in the film I Remember Mama (1948).[3]

Philip Dorn
from the trailer The Fighting Kentuckian (1949)
Hein van der Niet

(1901-09-30)30 September 1901
Died9 May 1975(1975-05-09) (aged 73)
Los Angeles, California, US
Resting placeWestwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery
Other namesFrits van Dongen
Years active1934–1955
Spouse(s)Cornelia Maria Twilt (1921-1930)
Marianne van Dam (1933-1975)

Early years

Dorn was born in Scheveningen, The Hague, Netherlands in 1901 and made his stage début at age 14[4] in Dutch productions. He graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts and Architecture in Scheveningen.[5]

Dorn served in the Queen Wilhelmina's Royal Guards in his native land.[6]



Dorn made his debut under the name of Frits van Dongen in Op Hoop van Zegen (1934) directed by Alex Benno. He had lead roles in De Big van het Regiment (1935), The Cross-Patch (1935), Op Stap (1936), and Rubber (1936). He appeared on stage in Camille, Ghosts and Journey's End.[7] He also toured Java with a theatrical company.[8]


Dorn moved to Germany where he appeared in The Tiger of Eschnapur (1938) and its sequel The Indian Tomb (1938). He was also in Waltz Melodies (1938), Covered Tracks (1938), The Jumping Jack (1938), and The Journey to Tilsit (1939).


He moved to United States in August 1939, just a fortnight before World War II broke out. He went there at the urging of Henry Koster who had directed him in Holland.[9]

Koster was at Universal and Dorn made three films for that studio: Enemy Agent (1940), Ski Patrol (1940), and Diamond Frontier (1940).[10]

Dorn went over to MGM where he had support roles in Escape (1940) and Ziegfeld Girl (1941).[11]

Warners borrowed him to play the lead in Underground (1941). At MGM he had a support in Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941) and they put him in a Dr. Kildare film, Born to be Bad, that had to be reshot when star Lew Ayres was fired due to being a conscientious objector. Dorn replaced him as a new doctor and the film was called Calling Dr. Gillespie (1942).[12]

He had a support part in Random Harvest (1942) and was third billed in Reunion in France (1942).[13]

20th Century Fox gave him the lead role in Chetniks! The Fighting Guerrillas (1943), playing Draža Mihailović. That studio kept him on to star in Paris After Dark (1943).[14]

At Warner Bros he was fourth billed in Passage to Marseille (1944). MGM gave him the lead in a B, Blonde Fever (1944). At Warners he starred in Escape in the Desert (1945), a remake of The Petrified Forest replacing Zachary Scott.[15]

At Republic, Dorn had the lead in I've Always Loved You (1946), an expensive musical.

In 1946 he appeared in a play with Claire Trevor, The Big Two.[16]

He was going to feature in Singapore but had to pull out when he fell ill with pneumonia.[17]

He had a good role in I Remember Mama (1948) at RKO, then did The Fighting Kentuckian (1949) with John Wayne at Republic.

Dorn had support roles in Panther's Moon (1950) at Universal and Sealed Cargo (1951) at RKO.

Return to Germany

Back in Germany, Dorn starred in Behind Monastery Walls (1952), Towers of Silence (1952), Dreaming Lips (1953) and Salto Mortale (1953).[18]

Personal life

Dorn suffered from phlebitis, requiring surgery and causing a number of strokes.

After an accident on stage, he retired in 1965 and spent the next 10 years of his life in his home in California. [8]

He was married twice. His first wife was Cornelia Maria Twilt (1921–1930). He was married to Dutch actress Marianne van Dam until his death (1933–1975).


Dorn died of a heart attack at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital[19] in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, on May 9, 1975.[20] He was 73 years old.[19] He was survived by his wife and a daughter.[21]

Partial filmography

as Frits van Dongen

as Philip Dorn

as Frits van Dogen


  • Ingo Schiweck/Hans Toonen Maharadscha, Tschetnik, Kriegsheimkehrer : der Schauspieler Frits van Dongen oder Philip Dorn , Osnabrück 2003. ISBN 3-89959-058-9
  • Hans Toonen "Nederlands Eerste Hollywood-Ster
  • Leo Deege "From Nazi Occupied Holland to the Jungles of Vietnam-An Immigrant Story, Denver, Colorado, 2015. ISBN 978-1-4787-6470-0


  1. Joseph F. Clarke (1977). Pseudonyms. BCA. p. 53.
  2. Dumont, Hervé (2009). Frank Borzage: The Life and Films of a Hollywood Romantic. McFarland. p. 324. ISBN 9781476613314. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  3. Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 204. ISBN 9781476625997. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  4. "Philip Dorn, Movie Actor, Dies At 73". The Tampa Tribune. Florida, Tampa. Associated Press. 11 May 1975. p. 34. Retrieved 30 November 2017 via
  5. "Dutch-born actor Philip Dorn dies". The Tampa Times. Florida, Tampa. United Press International. 10 May 1975. p. 2-A. Retrieved 30 November 2017 via
  6. "Actor Wants to Join Dutch". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. 12 May 1940. p. 2. Retrieved 30 November 2017 via
  7. Philip Dorn, 73, Film, Stage Actor The Washington Post 10 May 1975: C8.
  8. Philip Dorn, Film Actor, Dies; Co-Star in 'I Remember Mama' New York Times 10 May 1975: 32.
  9. PHILIP DORN Picture Show; London Vol. 45, Iss. 1148, (Apr 26, 1941): 10.
  10. THE LIFE STORY OF Philip Dorn Picture Show; London Vol. 47, Iss. 1199, (Dec 5, 1942): 11.
  11. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Peter Lorre Signed for Lead in RKO Picture 'Stranger on the Third Floor' 'WOMEN IN WAR' OPENING Elsie Janis Starred in Picture at Loew's Criterion Today --'Torrid Zone' Continues Philip Dorn in "Escape" Kurt Bernhardt Gets Post By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 29 May 1940: 26.
  12. STUDIO WILL REMAKE LEW AYRES FILM PLAY: 'Born to Be Bad' Will Have Philip Dorn as Physician Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 17 Apr 1942: 19.
  13. Actor From the Netherlands Learned English From Films: Hollywood Letter By Frank Daugherty Special to The Christian Science Monitor.13 June 1941: 14.
  14. DORN TOOTIN! LOOKING AT HOLLYWOOD With HEDDA HOPPER Chicago Daily Tribune 18 July 1943: C3.
  15. SCREEN NEWS HERE AND IN HOLLYWOOD: Philip Dorn Named for Lead in a Warner Remake -- Three Pictures Arrive Today Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES. New York Times 10 May 1944: 16.
  16. Claire Trevor, Philip Dorn Starring in Romantic Comedy By Edwin F. Melvin. The Christian Science Monitor 24 Dec 1946: 5.
  17. Philip Dorn Has Pneumonia New York Times 6 Mar 1947: 34.
  18. Philip Dorn, 73, Dies; Acted on Stage, in Films Los Angeles Times (10 May 1975: a24
  19. "Actor Philip Dorn Dies". Greeley Daily Tribune. Colorado, Greeley. Associated Press. 12 May 1975. p. 21. Retrieved 30 November 2017 via
  20. Ellenberger, Allan R. (2001). Celebrities in Los Angeles Cemeteries: A Directory. McFarland. p. 214. ISBN 9780786409839. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  21. "Heart Attack Kills Actor Philip Dorn". The Palm Beach Post-Times. Florida, West Palm Beach. Associated Press. 10 May 1975. p. B10.

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