Kinski in middle age
|Born||Klaus Gunther Nakszynski
18 October 1926
Zoppot, Free City of Danzig
|Died||23 November 1991
Lagunitas, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Gislinde Kühbeck (1952–1955) (divorced) 1 child
Brigitte Ruth Tocki (1960–1971) (divorced) 1 child
Minhoi Geneviève Loanic (1971–1979) (divorced) 1 child
|Children||Nastassja, Pola, and Nikolai Kinski.|
Klaus Kinski (born Klaus Gunther Nakszynski; 18 October 1926 – 23 November 1991) was a German actor. He appeared in more than 130 films, and is perhaps best remembered as a leading role actor in the films of Werner Herzog, including: Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Woyzeck (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982) and Cobra Verde (1987). He is the father of Nastassja Kinski, Pola Kinski, and Nikolai Kinski, all actors.
Early life 
Klaus Kinski was born to German parents in Zoppot in the Free City of Danzig (Sopot, Poland). His father, Bruno Nakszynski, a German of Polish descent, was a failed opera singer turned pharmacist; his mother, Susanne (née Lutze), was a nurse and the daughter of a local pastor. He had three older siblings: Inge, Arne and Hans-Joachim. Because of the Great Depression, the family was unable to make a living in Danzig and moved to Berlin in 1931. They settled in a flat in the Wartburgstraße 3, in the district of Schöneberg, and took German citizenship. From 1936 on, Kinski attended the Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium in Schöneberg.
Military service during World War II 
Kinski was conscripted into the German Wehrmacht sometime in 1943, serving in the army. He saw no action until the winter of 1944, when his unit was transferred to the Netherlands. His obituary in Variety states that there he was wounded and captured by the British on the second day of combat. In Kinski's autobiography, he recounts a different version of events. He says that he made a conscious decision to desert; that after being captured by the Germans, court-martialed as a deserter and sentenced to death, he escaped and hid in the woods; and that he finally surrendered to a British patrol which first had wounded him on the arm.
After being treated for his injuries and interrogated, Kinski was transferred to the prisoner of war "Camp 186" in Berechurch Hall in Colchester, Essex. The ship transporting him to England was torpedoed by a German U-Boat, but managed to arrive safely.
At the POW camp Kinski played his first theatre roles on stage, taking part in shows intended to maintain morale among the prisoners. By May 1945, at the end of the war in Europe, the German POWs were anxious to return home. Kinski had heard that sick prisoners were to be returned first, and tried to qualify in this category by standing outside naked at night, drinking urine and eating cigarettes. He remained healthy however, and was finally allowed to return to Germany in 1946, after spending a year and four months in captivity. Arriving in Berlin, he saw how the once modern city had been reduced to ruins and was now occupied by Allied troops. Kinski learned his father had died during the war and his mother had been killed in an Allied air attack.
Theatrical career 
Returning to Germany, and without having ever attended any professional training (Herzog noted in My Best Fiend that Kinski was self-taught), Kinski started out as an actor, first at a small touring company in Offenburg and already using his new name Klaus Kinski. In 1946, he was hired by the renowned Schlosspark-Theater in Berlin, but was fired by the manager in 1947 due to his unpredictable behavior.
Other companies followed, but his already wild and unconventional behavior regularly got him into trouble. In 1950, Kinski stayed in a psychiatric hospital for three days; medical records from the period listed a preliminary diagnosis of schizophrenia. Around this time he became unable to secure film roles, and in 1955 Kinski twice tried to commit suicide. In March 1956 he made one single guest appearance at Vienna's Burgtheater in Goethe's Torquato Tasso. Although respected by his colleagues, among them Judith Holzmeister, and cheered by the audience, Kinski's hope to get a permanent contract was not fulfilled, as the Burgtheater's management ultimately became aware of the actor's earlier difficulties in Germany. He unsuccessfully tried to sue the company.
Living jobless in Vienna, and without any prospects for his future, Kinski reinvented himself as a monologist and spoken word artist. He presented the prose and verse of François Villon, William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde among others. Thus he managed to establish himself as a well-known actor touring Austria, Germany, and Switzerland with his shows.
Film work and later life 
Kinski's first film role was a small part in the 1948 film Morituri. He appeared in several German Edgar Wallace movies, and had bit parts in the American war films Decision Before Dawn (1951) and A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958). In Alfred Vohrer's Die toten Augen von London (1961), his character refused any personal guilt for his evil deeds and claimed to have only followed the orders given to him; Kinski's performance reflected the post-war Germans' reluctance to take responsibility for what had happened during World War II.
During the 1960s and 70s, Kinski appeared in various European exploitation film genres, as well as more acclaimed works such as Doctor Zhivago (1965), in which he played an Anarchist prisoner on his way to the Gulag. He relocated to Italy during the late 1960s, and had roles in numerous spaghetti westerns, including For a Few Dollars More (1965), A Bullet for the General (1966), The Great Silence (1968), and A Genius, Two Partners and a Dupe (1975). He turned down a role in Raiders of the Lost Ark, describing the script as "moronically shitty".
Eventually, his collaborations with director Werner Herzog brought him to international recognition. In all, they made five films together: Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Woyzeck (1978), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and finally Cobra Verde (1987). In 1977 he starred as terrorist Wilfried Böse in the Israeli movie Operation Thunderbolt, based on the events of the 1976 Operation Entebbe. He co-starred as a violently evil killer from the future in a 1987 Sci-Fi based TV film Timestalkers, with William Devane and Lauren Hutton. His last film (which he also wrote and directed) was Kinski Paganini (1989), in which he played the legendary violinist Niccolò Paganini.
Kinski reinforced his image as a wild-eyed, sex-crazed maniac in the 1988 autobiography, All I Need Is Love (rereleased in 1996 as Kinski Uncut). The book infuriated many, and prompted his daughter Nastassja to file a libel suit against him, which was soon withdrawn. Werner Herzog, in his retrospective film on Kinski, My Best Fiend (1999), would later say that much of the autobiography was fabricated; the two even collaborated on the insults about the director. For many years to come, Kinski's own writings were the only source for facts about his life and were not questioned or doubted by independent analysts. With My Best Fiend, in which the director also showed lighter and humorous aspects of Kinski's personality, this changed somewhat. In 2006 Christian David published the first comprehensive biography based on newly discovered archived material, personal letters and interviews with Kinski's friends and colleagues. This was followed by a paperback book by Peter Geyer containing essays on Kinski's life and work.
Accusations of sexual abuse 
In 2013, approximately 40 years after the alleged abuse stopped, and 20 years after his death, Kinski's daughter Pola published an autobiography in which she stated that he molested and abused her from the age of 5 until 19. 
Kinski's younger daughter, actress Nastassja Kinski, who is Pola's half-sister, was questioned about the matter in an interview published in the January 13, 2013, online issue of the German tabloid Bild. She claims Kinski would embrace her in a sexual manner. 
Kinski died 23 November 1991 of a heart attack in Lagunitas, California, at age 65. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean. He was survived by his daughters, Nastassja and Pola, and his son, Nikolai.
Filmography and discography 
- Halliwell, Laurie (1997). Halliwell's filmgoer's companion (12th ed.). London: HarperCollins. ISBN 9780002557986.
- Kinski, Klaus (1988). All I Need Is Love (1st ed.). Random House. ISBN 0-394-54916-3. OCLC 18379547.
- David, Christian (2008). Kinski. Die Biographie. Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7466-2434-1. OCLC 244018538.
- Geyer, Peter (2006). Klaus Kinski: Leben, Werk, Wirkung. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp. ISBN 3-518-18220-X.
- Wise, James E. Jr.; Baron, Scott (2002). International Stars at War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. pp. 105–107. ISBN 1-55750-965-4.
- Encyclopædia Britannica
- Wise & Baron 2002, p. 105
- David 2008, pp. 10–13
- Wise & Baron 2002, p. 106
- David 2008, pp. 14–16
- David 2008, pp. 16–20
- David 2008, pp. 22–25
- Psycho-Akte von Klaus Kinski entdeckt, Bild, 22 July 2008. (German)
- David 2008, pp. 41–42
- David 2008, pp. 48–59
- David 2008, pp. 60–61
- David 2008, pp. 97–102
- David 2008, pp. 113–119, 136–141
- Glenn Whipp (2008-05-22). "Keeping up with Jones". Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-22.[dead link]
- Kinski, Klaus; Joachim Neugröschel (translator) (1996). Kinski Uncut. London: Bloomsbury. p. 294. ISBN 0-7475-2978-7.
- Wise & Baron 2002, p. 107
- Jackson, Patrick (2013-01-10). "German actor Klaus Kinski 'abused his daughter Pola'". BBC News Online. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Roxborough, Scott (2013-01-09). "Klaus Kinski's Daughter Claims He Sexually Abused Her". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
- Biss, Malta (2013-01-13). "Jetzt spricht Nastassja". Bild. Retrieved 2013-01-13.
- David 2008, pp. 353–354
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Klaus Kinski|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Klaus Kinski|
- Video clips and interviews with Klaus Kinski
- Klaus Kinski at the Internet Movie Database
- a segment of Guido Bãhm's 2001 Multimedia Analysis and Design project at the Humanities Advanced Technology and Information Institute, University of Glasgow
- Kinski's final interview
- Kinski Fanpage in German
- Guide to Kinski
- The Kinski Files blogsite
- Kinski Uncut review
- Klaus Kinski - Actor, Director and Fruitcake With Extra Nuts (TCM Movie Morlocks)
- Klaus Kinski at Find a Grave