Heinz Erhardt

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Heinz Erhardt

DPAG 2009 Heinz Erhardt, noch'n Gedicht.jpg

Deutsche Post stamp, 2009
Born(1909-02-20)20 February 1909
Riga, Livonia
Russian Empire
Died 5 June 1979(1979-06-05) (aged 70)
Hamburg, West Germany
Resting place Ohlsdorf Cemetery, Hamburg
Nationality German
Occupation Comedian, musician, entertainer, actor, poet
Years active 1928–1971
Website www.heinzerhardt.de (in German)

Heinz Erhardt (20 February 1909 5 June 1979) was a German comedian, musician, entertainer, actor, and poet.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.



Heinz Erhardt was born in Riga, the son of Baltic German Kapellmeister Gustl Erhardt. He lived most of his childhood at his grandparents' in Riga, where his grandfather, Paul Nelder, owned a music house. His grandfather also taught him how to play the piano.

Riga City in Latvia

Riga is the capital and largest city of Latvia. With 637,827 inhabitants (2018), it is also the largest city in the three Baltic states, home to one third of Latvia's population and one tenth of the three Baltic states' combined population. The city lies on the Gulf of Riga, at the mouth of the Daugava river. Riga's territory covers 307.17 km2 (118.60 sq mi) and lies 1–10 m above sea level, on a flat and sandy plain.

Baltic Germans ethnic Germans inhabitants of the eastern Baltic Sea

The Baltic Germans are ethnic German inhabitants of the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea, in what today are Estonia and Latvia. Since their expulsion from Estonia and Latvia and resettlement during the upheavals and aftermath of the Second World War, Baltic Germans have markedly declined as a geographically determined ethnic group. The largest groups of present-day descendants of the Baltic Germans are found in Germany and Canada. It is estimated that several thousand still reside in Latvia and Estonia.

Kapellmeister is a German word designating a person in charge of music-making. The word is a compound, consisting of the roots Kapelle and Meister ("master"). The word was originally used to refer to somebody in charge of music in a chapel. However, the term has evolved considerably in its meaning in response to changes in the musical profession.

After World War I, his father emigrated to Germany. Erhardt lived with his stepmother in Wennigsen near Hanover, where he attended school, until in 1924 he returned to Riga. From 1926 he studied at the Leipzig conservatory; however, Erhardt's wish to become a professional pianist was not supported by his grandparents who wanted him to work as a merchant. In 1935, Erhardt married Gilda Zanetti, daughter of the Italian consul in Saint Petersburg. They had four children: Grit, Verena, Gero, and Marita. Gero Erhardt became a film director and cinematographer, and his grandson, Marek Erhardt, became an actor.

World War I 1914–1918 global war originating in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Weimar Republic Germany state in the years 1918/1919–1933

The Weimar Republic is an unofficial historical designation for the German state from 1918 to 1933. The name derives from the city of Weimar, where its constitutional assembly first took place. The official name of the republic remained Deutsches Reich unchanged from 1871, because of the German tradition of substates. Although commonly translated as "German Empire", the word Reich here better translates as "realm", in that the term does not have monarchical connotations in itself. The Reich was changed from a constitutional monarchy into a republic. In English, the country was usually known simply as Germany.

Hanover Place in Lower Saxony, Germany

Hanover or Hannover is the capital and largest city of the German state of Lower Saxony. Its 535,061 (2017) inhabitants make it the thirteenth-largest city of Germany, as well as the third-largest city of Northern Germany after Hamburg and Bremen. The city lies at the confluence of the River Leine and its tributary Ihme, in the south of the North German Plain, and is the largest city of the Hannover–Braunschweig–Göttingen–Wolfsburg Metropolitan Region. It is the fifth-largest city in the Low German dialect area after Hamburg, Dortmund, Essen, and Bremen.

Working at his grandfather's business, Erhardt alongside entered the stage as a cabaret artist in several Riga coffeehouses, and in 1937 even appeared on the German RRG radio. The next year, Erhardt moved to Berlin, where he performed on a Kabarett stage on Kurfürstendamm. The spectacle wearer and non-swimmer Erhardt was drafted into the German Kriegsmarine navy during World War II, but only on the third call-up; he served as a pianist in the Marine orchestra and only handled weapons during his basic training.

Cabaret event venue

Cabaret is a form of theatrical entertainment featuring music, song, dance, recitation, or drama. It is mainly distinguished by the performance venue, which might be a pub, a restaurant or a nightclub with a stage for performances. The audience, often dining or drinking, does not typically dance but usually sits at tables. Performances are usually introduced by a master of ceremonies or MC. The entertainment, as done by an ensemble of actors and according to its European origins, is often oriented towards adult audiences and of a clearly underground nature. In the United States striptease, burlesque, drag shows, or a solo vocalist with a pianist, as well as the venues which offer this entertainment, are often advertised as cabarets.

Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft national network of German regional public broadcasting companies, 1925–45

The Reichs-Rundfunk-Gesellschaft (RRG) was a national network of German regional public radio and television broadcasting companies active from 1925 until 1945. RRG's broadcasts were receivable in all parts of the country and were used extensively for Nazi propaganda after 1933.

Berlin Capital of Germany

Berlin is the capital and largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,748,148 (2018) inhabitants make it the second most populous city proper of the European Union after London. The city is one of Germany's 16 federal states. It is surrounded by the state of Brandenburg, and contiguous with its capital, Potsdam. The two cities are at the center of the Berlin-Brandenburg capital region, which is, with about six million inhabitants and an area of more than 30,000 km², Germany's third-largest metropolitan region after the Rhine-Ruhr and Rhine-Main regions.

In 1948, he started work as a radio presenter at the public NWDR radio station. By then he had moved to Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel. He quickly became extremely popular and famous for his irresistible puns and countless nonsense poems. He also acted in films and on stage. In his films he usually played characters similar his stage persona as an entertainer and comedian - impersonating polite, uptight characters with a tendency to slips of the tongue and uncontrolled outbursts, exposing the bigotry and insincerity of West Germany's post-war society. By the 1960s, he had become a household name. Still today, many family gatherings which include the older generation tend to end in spontaneous recitations of Ehrhardts most famous pieces such as Die Made or the chanson Zwei Alte Tanten tanzen Tango.

Hamburg City in Germany

Hamburg is the second-largest city in Germany with a population of over 1.8 million.

Wellingsbüttel Quarter of Hamburg in Germany

Wellingsbüttel, a quarter in the Wandsbek borough in the city of Hamburg in northern Germany, is a former independent settlement. In 2016 the population was 10,506.

Pun figure of speech

The pun, also called paronomasia, is a form of word play that exploits multiple meanings of a term, or of similar-sounding words, for an intended humorous or rhetorical effect. These ambiguities can arise from the intentional use of homophonic, homographic, metonymic, or figurative language. A pun differs from a malapropism in that a malapropism is an incorrect variation on a correct expression, while a pun involves expressions with multiple interpretations. Puns may be regarded as in-jokes or idiomatic constructions, especially as their usage and meaning are usually specific to a particular language or its culture.

Heinz Erhardt suffered a stroke in 1971, which left him unable to speak or write. He was limited to reading and understanding the speech of others; these limitations ended his long career as an actor.

Stroke Medical condition where poor blood flow to the brain causes cell death

A stroke is a medical condition in which poor blood flow to the brain results in cell death. There are two main types of stroke: ischemic, due to lack of blood flow, and hemorrhagic, due to bleeding. Both result in parts of the brain not functioning properly. Signs and symptoms of a stroke may include an inability to move or feel on one side of the body, problems understanding or speaking, dizziness, or loss of vision to one side. Signs and symptoms often appear soon after the stroke has occurred. If symptoms last less than one or two hours it is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke may also be associated with a severe headache. The symptoms of a stroke can be permanent. Long-term complications may include pneumonia or loss of bladder control.

He was awarded the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany (Bundesverdienstkreuz) four days before his death in 1979.

Selected filmography

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