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Hiram Keller (May 3, 1944 – January 20, 1997), born Hiram Keller Undercofler Jr., was an American stage and film actor who appeared starred in European films. He is best known for his role as Ascyltus in Federico Fellini's 1969 film Satyricon.
Keller received his dramatic training at Lee Strasberg's prestigious Actors Studio in New York. His first stage engagement took him to Broadway. From 1968 until his departure to appear in Fellini's Satyricon, he was a member of the tribe in the original line-up stage production of Hair, directed by Tom O'Horgan, written by Gerome Ragni and James Rado, music by Galt McDermott. In addition, Keller worked as a model and acted in the New York underground scene with Andy Warhol.
Two years later, Keller was in Fellini's Satyricon, his feature film debut. The Italian director Federico Fellini hired him for the leading role in his gloomy-looking adaptation of the novel fragment Satyrica of Petronius as his preferred candidate for the role since Pierre Clémenti was no longer available. His role as Ascyltus helped boost Keller's career internationally. The screenwriter and long-time employee of Fellini Bernardino Zapponi wrote of Keller's representation:
... Has a very photogenic smile and is full of knowledge as required by his role. (Bernardino Zapponi: My friend Fellini, Munich 1997, p. 61)
After this success, Keller received a number of major roles in mostly Italian productions. He starred with Giancarlo Giannini in Alberto Lattuada's comedy Sono stato io!, the male lead role opposite Jane Birkin in the Anthony M. Dawson-directed horror movie Seven Dead in the Eyes of the Cat, the main role in the science fiction thriller The Secret of Life (with Klaus Kinski), Catherine Breillat's Une vraie jeune fille and drama in the historical film Rivuole Cesare Roma!. In 1970, he also appeared in an Italian-French-German-Bulgarian co-production of Jules Verne's The Courier of the Czar, directed by John Phillip Law.
In 1982 he starred with his wife, Kristina St. Clair the Jamaican film production Countryman.
Personal life and death
Keller was married to actress Kristina St. Clair from 1981 to 1987 and had a daughter named Serena. The last years he spent with his family in his native Atlanta, Georgia. He died there on January 20, 1997 of liver cancer. Keller was exposed to Hepatitis C during the production of Hair which is linked to liver cancer.
- 1969 Fellini Satyricon (Satyricon)
- 1970 La Notte dei Fiori
- 1970 The Courier of the Czar
- 1973 Sono stato io!
- 1973 Morte negli occhi del gatto
- 1974 Roma rivuole Cesare
- 1974 Lifespan
- 1976 Une vraie jeune fille
- 1982 Countryman
- Hiram Keller at the Internet Movie Database
- Hiram Keller at the Internet Broadway Database
- Hiram Keller at the TCM Movie Database
- Hiram Keller at AllMovie
- Hiram Keller at Find a Grave