Thomas Gottschalk

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Thomas Gottschalk
Maischberger - 2018-02-28-9492.jpg
Gottschalk at the talk show maischberger. die woche in 2018
Thomas Johannes Gottschalk

(1950-05-18) 18 May 1950 (age 72)
Bamberg, Bavaria, West Germany
Occupation(s)Radio and TV host, entertainer, actor
Years active1971–present
Thea Hauer
(m. 1976; sep. 2019)

Thomas Johannes Gottschalk (born 18 May 1950) is a German radio and television host and entertainer. He is best known for hosting Wetten, dass..?, for many years Europe's biggest television show,[1][2] which he steered to huge success in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol between 1987 and 2011. Until 2015, he was also the brand ambassador in television advertisements for Haribo confectionery.

Early life[edit]

Gottschalk was born in Bamberg, Bavaria, the son of a lawyer. After attending the Humanistisches Gymnasium (humanities-oriented high school) in Kulmbach, he studied history and German philology, eventually taking his exams as a teacher for primary and secondary schools; however, it was during this time that he discovered his true vocation: entertainment.[citation needed]


From 1971 on, Gottschalk worked as a freelancer for the youth program of the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting); in 1973, he became anchor for a news program. In 1976, after a brief detour to the newspaper Münchner Merkur, he became a regular contributor at the Bayerischer Rundfunk, and subsequently gained popularity as the host of the show Pop nach acht. He was awarded the Kurt-Magnus-Preis for his "outstanding talents" as a radio host in 1978.

Starting in 1977, Gottschalk hosted the TV show Telespiele. Initially broadcast on the Bayerischer Rundfunk's television channel, it switched to the national public ARD channel in 1980. In the same year, Gottschalk founded GLS United, the first German hip hop group and performed the first German rap song, "Rapper's Deutsch".[3][4]

From 1982 to 1987, Gottschalk hosted the show Na sowas on ZDF and was awarded the Goldene Kamera (golden camera) for his performance on that show in 1985. During that period he also starred in several German comedies with actor Mike Krüger. Gottschalk occasionally works as an actor until today, taking roles in the Hollywood movies Trabbi goes to Hollywood (1991) and Zookeeper (2011). In 1993, Gottschalk starred in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) as a consequence of leading actress Whoopi Goldberg losing a bet in Gottschalk's gameshow Wetten, dass..?.[5] He plays the sausage-obsessed German cook, Father Wolfgang.

In 1987, Gottschalk replaced Frank Elstner as host of Wetten, dass..?, which he continued until December 2011, with only a brief interruption from 1992 to 1994 when the show was taken over by Wolfgang Lippert. Reportedly, his withdrawal from the show was related to an accident that happened live on Wetten, dass..? on 4 December 2010. A contestant in the show, a young gymnast named Samuel Koch, was paralyzed from the shoulders down after being hit by a car during a stunt where he was to jump over it with spring-loaded boots. Gottschalk was upset this happened and called off the show early for the first time ever when it became apparent that Koch was severely injured. Gottschalk announced his retirement from the show in the next episode.[6]

Gottschalk in 2005

From 1992 to 1995, Gottschalk also hosted a late night show on television, Gottschalk Late Night, and while it was not very successful, it is considered a predecessor to such shows such as Die Harald Schmidt Show, TV total and the Johannes B. Kerner Show. Gottschalk Late Night also featured the Model '92 Competition during 1992, in which Heidi Klum was the winner and received a modeling contract and winning prize, paving the way for her modeling career.

Gottschalk has been awarded a number of prizes for his work; apart from those mentioned above. These include the Telestar in 1987, the Goldenes Schlitzohr (golden rascal) and the Goldenes Kabel (golden cable) in 1991, as well as the Goldene Feder ("golden feather") in 2001. He also received a total of three Bambi awards, which he returned in 1988 after a dispute with the publisher Burda. However, in 2001, he was awarded a "Bambi of honor" which he accepted. In 2012 Gottschalk co-hosted the show Das Supertalent.

Gottschalk also co-hosts the German TV show Die 2 – Gottschalk und Jauch gegen alle together with Günther Jauch.[7]

Personal life[edit]

Gottschalk married his wife Thea in 1976. He has two sons, Roman and Tristan and one grandson (born 2010). In 2019, he announced that he and Thea would be getting divorced after 43 years of marriage.[8]

On 16 November 2004, Gottschalk bought Castle Marienfels in Remagen, Germany. He lived there from 2006 to 2013. It was announced at the end of January 2013 that he had sold the castle to Frank Asbeck.[9][10] He has had a second home in Malibu, California, since the beginning of the 1990s. The residence burned down in the 2018 California wildfires.[11]

In 2005, Gottschalk received an entry in the Guinness World Records, having been featured in longest running ad featuring one person; between 1991 and 2015 he regularly appeared in ads for the sweets company Haribo.[12]

On 20 November 2008, he won €1 million for charity in a celebrity version of Wer wird Millionär?, the German version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.



Year Title Role Notes
1978 Summer Night Fever DJ
1981 Piratensender Powerplay Tommy Jürgensen
1983 Die Supernasen Tommy Jürgensen / Prince Faruk al Habib Also co-writer
1984 Zwei Nasen tanken Super Tommy Jürgensen Also co-writer
1984 Mama Mia – Don't Panic [de] Frank Müller
1985 Big Mäc Bernhard Maurer
1985 Die Einsteiger Tommy Jürgensen Also co-writer
1985 Seitenstechen Showmaster
1987 Three Crazy Jerks [de] (a.k.a. Lovable Zanies) Richy Also writer
1988 Three Crazy Jerks II [de] (a.k.a. Lovable Zanies II) Richy Also writer, director and composer
1990 Harry and Harriet [de] Harry
1990 Think Big Mr. Roberts
1991 Keep on Running [de] Latin teacher Cameo appearance
1991 Trabbi goes to Hollywood Gunther Schmidt
1993 Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Father Wolfgang
1999 Late Show [de] Hannes Engel
2004 Garfield: The Movie Garfield (voice) German dub
2007 Meet the Robinsons Cornelius Robinson (voice) German dub
2008 1½ Knights – In Search of the Ravishing Princess Herzelinde King Gunther
2011 Zookeeper Jürgen Mavroc


  • Herbstblond: Die Autobiographie (Audiobook, Autobiography, read by Thomas Gottschalk), Random House Audio 2015, ISBN 978-3837130768
  • Herbstbunt: Wer nur alt wird, aber nicht klüger, ist schön blöd (Audiobook, Autobiography, read by Thomas Gottschalk), Random House Audio 2019, ISBN 978-3837145885



External links[edit]