Leonid Kinskey, a stylish Russian-born character actor of the 1930s and 1940s who is perhaps best remembered as Sascha the bartender in “Casablanca,” died Sept. 9 of complications from a stroke in Fountain Hills, Ariz. He was 95.
Humphrey Bogart recommended Kinskey for the role of Sascha in the 1942 classic. Kinskey went on to play variations of his Russian character in 68 films.
Kinskey, one of the last surviving members of “Casablanca,” was born April 18, 1903, in St. Petersburg, Russia. He first performed in opera and theater, moving to films in the early 1930s, shortly after arriving in the United States.
Some of his early films included “Duck Soup” with the Marx Brothers, “Wonder Bar” with Al Jolson and “Rhythm on the Range” with Bing Crosby, in which he amused audiences and co-workers alike when he sang “I’m an Old Cowhand.”
Louella Parsons once described Kinskey as “the maddest Russian on land and sea. He has a certain suavity combined with an ingratiating manner that is decidedly pleasing.”
Additional film credits included “The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle,” “The Talk of the Town” and “Monsieur Beaucaire.”
In 1940, Kinskey portrayed a hilarious gigolo in the Betty Grable starrer “Down Argentine Way” (Fox, 1940). He retired from the bigscreen in the late 1940s and moved over to television for occasional guest spots.
In 1948, Kinskey starred in the early situation comedy “The Spot Lite Club,” on KTLA in Los Angeles.
Kinskey also essayed roles on “Perry Mason,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.” and “Hogan’s Heroes.”
He ran an elegant restaurant on the Sunset Strip called Bublitschki and reveled in his role as host to the Hollywood crowd.
In later years, he produced, directed and wrote corporate films.
Kinskey was widowed twice before marrying artist Tina York in 1983. The couple moved to Fountain Hills, a Phoenix suburb, in 1994. He had no children.