The Screen Room
Conrad Veidt: The Original Inspiration for The Joker
This is German-born British film actor Conrad Veidt. His character, Gwynplaine from the 1928 film "The Man Who Laughs" was the main inspiration for the infamous Batman villain, The Joker (created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson).
In the film (based on the 1869 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo), Veidt plays a man cursed with a permanent grin after being surgically disfigured as a child (on the orders of the king).
Although not technically a horror film, the image of Veidt as his character Gwynplaine is pretty terrifying and it’s easy to see how he inspired one of the greatest comic-book villains ever created.
In 2005 a Batman comic entitled "The Man Who Laughs" was published. The story centres on The Joker, and the title is a reference to the original novel and its main character who inspired the Clown Prince of Crime.
Conrad Veidt is probably best known for playing Major Heinrich Strasser in Casablanca (1942).