DESSOIR, LUDWIG (originally Leopold Dessauer ; 1810–1874), German actor. He was born in Posen, the son of a merchant. Dessoir first appeared on the stage at the age of 14. From 1831 he acted in provincial theaters in character and heroic roles in classical repertoire (Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller). He succeeded Karl August Devrients at the theater of Karlsruhe and was invited in 1849 to the Royal Theater in Berlin, where he continued his work for the next 23 years. His ability to analyze and interpret the spiritual content of a role enabled him to render many subtle characterizations. Dessoir was considered one of the finest Shakespearean actors of his time, not only on the German stage, but also in London, where he appeared in 1853. Lear, Othello, Hamlet, and Coriolanus, as well as Faust, Uriel Acosta, and Louis xi, were among his best portrayals.
O.F. Genischen, Berliner Hofschauspieler (1872); G.H. Lewes, On Actors and the Art of Acting (1875). add. bibliography: C. Sander, Ludwig Dessoir – Ein Schauspieler des 19. Jahrhunderts (Rekonstruktion einer Schauspielkunst) (1967).