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Biography

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Overview (2)

Date of Birth 20 February 1909Riga, Russian Empire [now Latvia]
Date of Death 5 June 1979Hamburg, West Germany  (heart attack)

Mini Bio (1)

The multi-talented comedian, pianist, singer and home-spun poet Heinz Erhardt was born in Riga, the son of a successful bandmaster. After his parents split up, he had a somewhat unsettled upbringing, spent, alternately, with his mother in St. Petersburg, with his grandparents in Riga and with his father in Hannover. Forced to change school some fifteen times, he eventually completed his education -- though failing to matriculate -- and commenced musical studies at the Leipzig Conservatory under the distinguished concert pianist and educator Professor Robert Teichmüller. He then had a stint as a piano salesman, but soon put his talents to better use 'tickling the ivories' and performing as a cabaret artist and stand-up comic in cafés and on radio in Danzig. He made his proper stage debut at the Riga Schauspielhaus in 1932 in a play, for which he had also composed the music. Then followed several years of financial hardship supporting his new family, a wife and four children. However, in 1938 he was invited by the actor and emcee Willi Schaeffers to join the popular satirical revue Kabarett der Komiker in Berlin. Erhardt quickly established a singular reputation as humorist, as well as persisting with his musical vocation. Though a non-swimmer, he was conscripted to serve as a pianist with the orchestra of the German Navy during the Second World War.

After the war, he resumed work on the stage in Hamburg and had a huge national hit as presenter of a weekly radio series ("So was Dummes") which spotlighted his forte for spontaneous wit, pun poetry and double entendre. Eventually, the screen beckoned, initially finding him cast in minor supporting parts or as a singing pianist. As his radio fame grew, the bespectacled, cherubic, corpulent Erhardt became an instant cinematic favorite. His starring debut in Der müde Theodor (1957) was a box-office blockbuster, followed with a back-to-back hit in Widower with 5 Daughters (1957). A kind of querulous equivalent to Hollywood's S.Z. Sakall, Erhardt often lampooned bourgeois values and philistine preoccupations. Thus, even his more irritating characters, like Paul Perlacher in Der Haus-Tyrann (1959), were never dislikeable.

In order to escape his typecasting as a comedian, Erhardt founded his own television production company in 1961, though the venture lasted a mere two years.The public seemed more than reluctant to accept Erhardt in any genre other than comedy. Following this disappointment, he returned to the small screen, inevitably in his familiar comic guises, including a recurring role as good-hearted but hapless taxation officer Willi Winzig. He also proceeded to publish several best-selling compilations of his comic poetry and profited from numerous record sales of his live performances. Sadly, in December 1971, Erhardt suffered a paralysing stroke and lost the facility of speech, which effectively put an end to his career. He died eight years later in Hamburg at the age of seventy, six months after receiving Germany's highest award, the Bundesverdienstkreuz (Federal Cross of Merit).

- IMDb Mini Biography By: I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Gilda Zanetti (5 January 1935 - 5 June 1979) (his death) (4 children)

Trivia (5)

Grandfather of Marek Erhardt and Nicola Tyszkiewicz.
One of Germany`s most talented and popular comedians. He was famous for his puns and confused idiomatic expressions.
Was almost blind on stage because he suffered from stage fever and wore window glass lenses, so he could not see the audience.
In 1979, three days before he died, Heinz Erhardt received the highest honor of Germany, the Große Bundesverdienstkreuz, the Superior Federal Cross of Merit.

Personal Quotes (2)

Nothing on earth is as hard to shut as the mouth.
The advantage of being clever is that you can pretend to be stupid.

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