Morgan-Ruffner, Josa (fl 1910-1960)

Scope and Content

Papers, 1929-1982, documenting the lives of Paul Morgan and his wife Josa Morgan-Ruffner comprising correspondence, draft play scripts, newspaper articles, scrap-books of news cuttings, photographs and ephemera.

Administrative / Biographical History

Josa Morgan-Ruffner nèe Lederer was born in 1910 to Professor Lederer, a famous surgeon and Baroness Zenetti of Venice. She was Roman Catholic; studied for the theatre with Professor Arndt of the famous Burgtheater; married the star of stage and screen, playwright and wit, Paul Morgan, beloved by pre-war Berlin. She joined him when he was under contract in Hollywood to MGM. When they returned, Hitler rose to power. Paul Morgan's Theater der Komiker was taken away and they left for Vienna.

Josa started broadcasting about her American experiences and wrote regularly in the Sunday edition of Das Wiener Journal .

In 1938 Paul Morgan was arrested and sent to Dachau then Buchenwald where he was killed (according to Josa) by special orders of Hitler who could not forgive him for ridiculing him.

Josa was imprisoned in 1940 by the French as the holder of a German passport and taken to a concentration camp in the Pyrenees.

In 1944 she married Mr Joseph Ruffner III and became an American citizen. Later became estranged from him living in Munich and London.

The actor Paul Morgan was born as Paul Morgenstern. He belonged to the great theatre actors of his time. He appeared at the Simplicissimus in 1914 and founded together with Kurt Robitschek and Max Hansen the Berliner Kabarett der Komiker .

As an established theatre actor he dared to make first steps in the new and disapproved-of medium, film. To his early movies belong Der Herr ohne Wohnung , Die Reise um die Erde in 80 Tagen as well as Fritz Lang's successful productions Halbblut and Die Spinnen .

In the 1920's there followed other very successful movies, among them Die Herrin der Welt , Kurfürstendamm , Hedda Gabler , Die Brüder Schellenberg , Wehe, wenn sie losgelassen , Der Stolz der Kompagnie , Venus im Frack , Casanova und Moral .

Morgan gained in popularity in the 1930s. He played in the following years in numerous movies like Nur Du , Zwei Herzen im Dreiviertel-Takt , Menschen hinter Gittern , Casanova wider Willen and Ich und die Kaiserin .

Paul Morgan also made a name as an author of musicals besides his acting activity. He wrote among others the musical Axel vor des Himmels Tor , with which Zarah Leander launched her career.

The threat from National Socialism in Germany was underestimated by Paul Morgan for a long time. He was one of the first victims of the union of Austria to the German Reich in 1938 and was arrested on charges of possession of a letter of Gustav Stresemann (see copy at 1336/1/2). The real reason for his arrest was his Jewish roots.

Paul Morgan was deported to Dachau and arrived at the prison camp together with other Viennese in May. Paul Morgan was later transported to Buchenwald where he died of pneumonia, which he contracted during an inhuman punishment drill in one of the coldest winters in Europe.


Chronological by document type.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Morgan-Ruffner family

Other Finding Aids

Description exists to this archive on the Wiener Library's online catalogue

Archivist's Note

Entry compiled by Howard Falksohn.

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Copies can be made for personal use. Permission must be sought for publication.

Geographical Names