Horst Buchholz

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Horst Buchholz
Born Horst Werner Buchholz
(1933-12-04)4 December 1933
Berlin, Germany
Died 3 March 2003(2003-03-03) (aged 69)
Berlin, Germany
Years active 1952–2002
Spouse(s) Myriam Bru (m. 1958–2003)

Horst Werner Buchholz (4 December 1933 – 3 March 2003) was a German actor, best known in English-speaking countries for his roles in The Magnificent Seven, in which he played Chico,[1] Fanny, and the Billy Wilder comedy One, Two, Three. Worldwide, from 1952 to 2002, he appeared in more than sixty feature films. During his youth he was sometimes called "the German James Dean".[2]

Life and work[edit]

Horst Buchholz was born in Berlin, the son of Maria Hasenkamp. He never knew his biological father, but took the surname of his stepfather Hugo Buchholz, a shoemaker, whom his mother married in 1938.[3] In 1941 his half-sister Heidi was born. She gave him the nickname "Hotte", which he kept for the rest of his life.[3] During World War II he was evacuated to Silesia and at the end of the war found himself in a foster home in Czechoslovakia. He returned to Berlin as soon as he could. He barely finished his schooling before seeking theater work, first appearing on stage in 1949. He soon left his childhood home in East Berlin to work in West Berlin. He established himself in the theater, notably the Schiller Theater, and also on radio.[3]

Able to speak several languages, Buchholz expanded into film work by doing voice dubbing and in 1952 he started getting small uncredited on-screen parts. He had a marginally larger role in Marianne de ma jeunesse (1954), directed by Julien Duvivier, then won a Best Actor award at Cannes for his part as Mischa Bjelkin in Helmut Käutner's Himmel ohne Sterne (1955). His youthful good looks next brought him a part in Die Halbstarken (1956); an English-dubbed version was released in the US as Teenage Wolfpack, with Buchholz billed as "Henry Bookholt" and promoted as a new James Dean.[4] His breakthrough film was Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (1957), in which he played the lead; it was directed by Kurt Hoffmann and based on the novel by Thomas Mann.

In 1958 Buchholz married French actress Myriam Bru. They had two children.

Buchholz's gravestone in Berlin. The word below his name means "actor". Below his birth and death dates it says in German, "Love the world and the world will love you".

Buchholz began appearing in English-language films in 1959, when he co-starred in the British production Tiger Bay with Hayley Mills. He followed that with The Magnificent Seven (1960) and the Berlin-set One, Two, Three (1961) directed by Billy Wilder. He also starred in the romantic drama Fanny (1961) with Maurice Chevalier and Leslie Caron. A versatile actor, he took parts as they came to him and appeared in comedies, horror films, wartime dramas and other genres. His best work was mostly behind him by the mid-1960s. The quality of the films in which he appeared diminished, with poorly regarded made-for-television films and episodic television making up the majority of his appearances during the 1970s. One exception was Le Sauveur (1971), directed by French film critic Michel Mardore. In a few of his late-career films he was again given meatier roles in serious heavy dramas, such as in the bleak And the Violins Stopped Playing (1988) and Roberto Benigni's Oscar-winning Life Is Beautiful (1997).

Usually reticent about his private life, in a 2000 interview in the German magazine Bunte Buchholz publicly came out, saying "Yes, I also love men. Ultimately, I'm bisexual. ... I have always lived my life the way I wanted."[5] He explained that he and his wife of nearly 42 years had a stable and enduring arrangement, with her life centered in Paris and his in Berlin, the city that he loved.[5] Their son Christopher Buchholz, also an actor and the producer of the feature-length documentary Horst Buchholz...Mein Papa (2005), has publicly acknowledged his father's bisexuality.[6]

Buchholz died unexpectedly at the age of sixty-nine in the Berlin Charité from pneumonia that developed after an operation for a hip fracture. Berlin was the city to which his loyalty was constant, and he was buried there in the Friedhof Heerstraße.

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ "Horst Buchholz will always be fondly remembered for playing Chico". Paul Page, quoted in Horst Buchholz biography. Accessed 1 May 2012
  2. ^ Giardina, A. (2003). "THE LIVES THEY LIVED; The German James Dean". The New York Times Magazine, 28 December 2003. Accessed 2 March 2014 (access free as of same date).
  3. ^ a b c The pre-1952 portion of this biography incorporates information derived from the German Wikipedia article w:de:Horst Buchholz
  4. ^ As documented by the US film poster
  5. ^ a b As reported in B.Z., 9 November 2000. In German. Accessed 27 February 2014. English translation of "Ja, ich liebe auch Männer. Letztlich bin ich bisexuell. ... Ich habe mein Leben immer gelebt, wie ich wollte." per Google Translate.
  6. ^ Buchholz, C. (2005). "Horst Buchholz...My Papa" (English version of the program note for the 2005 Berlinale international film festival). Accessed 27 February 2014.

External links[edit]