F. W. Murnau
Birth Name: Friedrich Wilhelm Plumpe
Date of Birth: December 28, 1888
Place of Birth: Bielefeld, Germany
Date of Death: March 11, 1931
Place of Death: Santa Barbara, California, U.S.
F. W. Murnau was a German silent film director, producer, and screenwriter. A key figure in German Expressionism, he worked in Germany and later the U.S. He directed the legendary horror film Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror (1922). He also helmed the films The Boy in Blue (1919), Satan (1920), The Hunchback and the Dancer, Der Januskopf, Evening – Night – Morning, Desire: The Tragedy of a Dancer, Journey into the Night (1921), The Haunted Castle, Marizza, The Burning Soil, Phantom (1922), The Expulsion, The Grand Duke’s Finances, The Last Laugh (1924), Tartuffe, Faust (1926), and then, in California, Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans, 4 Devils, City Girl (1930), and Tabu: A Story of the South Seas. Many of his films are lost. His film Sunrise won the Academy Award for Unique and Artistic Picture. He also co-wrote his Tabu, as well as the film Comedy of the Heart. He was at least 6′4″, possibly taller.
F. W. was the son of Otilie (Volbracht) and Heinrich Plumpe, a cloth factory owner. He took the name Murnau from the town in which he later lived, near Lake Staffel, south of Munich. F. W. served in the Imperial German Army during WWI, as an infantry company commander, and then as an observer and gunner in the Flying Corps. His partner, poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele, was killed fighting in WWI.
F. W. moved to Los Angeles, California, in 1926.