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|Born||Hans Edwin Messemer
17 May 1924
Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria, Germany
|Died||2 November 1991
Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Known for||The Great Escape|
|Spouse(s)||Monika Keusch (1985 -1991) (his death)
Susanne Korda (1980-1981) (divorced)
Rosel Schäfer (1952-1977) (divorced) (1 child)
Hannes Messemer (17 May 1924 – 2 November 1991) was a German actor. Born in Dillingen an der Donau, Bavaria, Messemer served on the Eastern Front of World War II and was eventually captured by Soviet soldiers. He managed to escape and make it back to Germany on foot. After the war, Messemer tried his hand at several jobs, before falling into acting in 1946. With only his natural talent and no training, he successfully secured roles with several major theatre companies in Tübingen, Hamburg, Munich and Berlin in the following ten years.
His big break in films came with a role in Rose Bernd in 1956. He was then cast in the major role of Colonel Rossdorf in the production of The Devil Strikes at Night the following year - a role which saw him awarded a Best Actor accolade. A series of successful roles followed, including The Doctor of Stalingrad, Der Transport (Destination Death), Die Brücke des Schicksals and the comedy Babette Goes to War with Brigitte Bardot. He achieved critical international acclaim for his role as Colonel Muller in the Roberto Rossellini production of General della Rovere (1959), with the film winning the Golden Lion at Venice that year.
Messemer is probably best known for his role as Oberst von Luger, the Kommandant in The Great Escape (1963). The film had a star-studded cast, but it was Messemer, relatively unknown outside Europe, who uttered the film's most famous line (to Steve McQueen/Capt. Hilts): "It looks, after all, as if you will see Berlin before I do."
He continued to star in TV and theatre productions, becoming a familiar face to German television audiences for over 20 years. Some of his roles included major TV productions such as Union der festen Hand and Die Dämonen, as well as two years as Commissioner Deeds in the TV drama series Sergeant Berry. He also lent his distinctive voice to radio and recorded works, including the writings of Mao, and a reading of the four books of the Gospels.
A heavy lifelong smoker, Messemer suffered throat cancer during the 1980s, and surgery left his voice at only a whisper. Forced to retire from acting, he appeared on German television for the last time in 1989, in a production with Agnes Fink.
|1962||Liebe im September||Graham Colby|
|1963||Die Legende vom heiligen Trinker||Andreas Kartak||based on The Legend of the Holy Drinker|
|1964||Der trojanische Krieg findet nicht statt||Odysseus||based on The Trojan War Will Not Take Place|
|1964||Die Verschwörung des Fiesco zu Genua||Fiesco||based on Fiesco|
|1968||König Richard II||King Richard II||based on Richard II|
|1974-1975||Sergeant Berry||Commissioner Deeds||23 episodes|
|1976||Fünf Prüfungen des Oberbürgermeisters||Konrad Adenauer||written by Peter von Zahn|
|1977||Generale – Anatomie der Marneschlacht||Joseph Gallieni||written by Sebastian Haffner|
|1977||Die Befragung des Machiavelli||Machiavelli|
|1977||Onkel Silas||Onkel Silas||based on Uncle Silas|
|1977||Die Dämonen||Stepan Trofimovich Verkhovensky||based on Demons|
|1979||Union der festen Hand||von Zander||based on a novel by Erik Reger|
|1981||Collin||Havelka||based on a novel by Stefan Heym|
|1982||Flüchtige Bekanntschaften||Paul||based on a novel by Dieter Wellershoff|
|1982||Frau Jenny Treibel||Leutnant a.D. Vogelsang||based on Frau Jenny Treibel|
|1983||Die Geschwister Oppermann||Gutwetter||based on a novel by Lion Feuchtwanger|
|1983-1984||Diese Drombuschs||Herr Diehl, Oberstudienrat i.P.||4 episodes|
|1989||Langusten||Ernst||(final film role)|