Pierre Brice

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Pierre Brice, 2004

Pierre Brice (born Pierre-Louis Baron Le Bris on 6 February 1929) is a French actor, mainly known for his role as fictional Apache-chief Winnetou in German Karl May films.

Life and films[edit]

Brice was born in Brest, France. When he was 19, Brice enlisted in the French Army and fought in the First Indochina War. While patrolling in Indochina, one of his team triggered a mine and its explosion sent Brice whirling through the air, but left him virtually unhurt. Later he served as a paratrooper during the Algerian War. From 1962 to 1968 he acted in a total of eleven West German Western movies adapted from novels by German author Karl May, in which he played the fictional Indian chief Winnetou of the Mescalero Apache tribe, alongside Lex Barker (7 movies), Stewart Granger (3 movies) and Rod Cameron (1 movie) as the white heroes. After the films he also played this role at the Karl May Festspiele in Elspe from 1977 to 1980 and 1982 to 1986 and at the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg open-air theatre, Germany, from 1988 to 1991; he also worked there until 1999 as director of several open-air theatre productions. (The open-air theatre in Bad Segeberg is dedicated only to productions of Karl May plays.)

Besides theatre productions, he was mainly seen in TV-series, including Ein Schloß am Wörthersee (A Castle by the Woerthersee) and Die Hütte am See (The Cottage by the Lake). In 1979 Brice again played Winnetou in a 14-part TV series called Mein Freund Winnetou (My friend Winnetou – Winnetou le Mescalero), which did not originate from Karl May material. In 1997 he appeared in a two-part TV mini series Winnetous Rückkehr (de) (The Return of Winnetou), which earned devastating criticism from the fans, since the character had died in the movie Winnetou III and now suddenly returned to life. Again, this did not originate from writings by Karl May.

Pierre Brice tried to escape the Winnetou character in a 1976 TV series, Star Maidens, and in several movies for the big screen, playing Zorro in the Italian Zorro contro Maciste (1963). He also worked with Terence Hill (still called Mario Girotti at the time) in Schüsse im Dreivierteltakt (Shots in 3/4 Time) (1965), with Lex Barker in a non-Karl May film Die Hölle von Manitoba (de) (A Place Called Glory City) (1965) and in the anthology Gern hab' ich die Frauen gekillt (Killer's Carnival) (1966). Stewart Granger, Lex Barker and Pierre Brice finally worked together in one movie – but for some reason, the actors did not share a single scene in the film.

Pierre Brice recovered some audience in France with TV series Le Dessous du ciel (fr) alongside Marie-Georges Pascal (1974) and Orages d'été, avis de tempête (fr) with Annie Girardot (1989).

Singing career[edit]

Like Lex Barker (who recorded two tracks as a singer), Pierre Brice tried to sing with the help of German composer Martin Boettcher, and even managed to issue several singles and CDs. Most of the songs were in German and, as Brice didn't understand the language at the time of recording, he had to sing them phonetically.

  • PIERRE BRICE: Ich steh' allein / Ribanna – DECCA D 19 557 (mono)
  • PIERRE BRICE: Wunderschön / Keiner weiß den Tag – Decca, D 19 560
  • PIERRE BRICE: Winnetou, Du warst mein Freund / Meine roten Brüder – Barclay
  • PIERRE BRICE: Du fehlst mir / Der große Traum – CBS
  • Winnetou du warst mein Freund – 1996, sampler CD, Bear Family Records
    contains the above songs, as well as Lex Barker songs.

Partial filmography[edit]


External links[edit]