Pierre Brice, in 2004
|Born||6 February 1929|
|Died|| 6 June 2015 86) (aged|
Pierre-Louis Le Bris (6 February 1929 – 6 June 2015), known as Pierre Brice, was a French actor, best known as portraying fictional Apache-chief Winnetou in German films based on Karl May novels.
Brice was born in Brest, Britanny, 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. Member or the Commandos Marine, special forces units of the French Navy, he served later 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 [ citation needed ](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.
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 Shots in Threequarter Time (1965), with Lex Barker in a non-Karl May film The Hell of Manitoba (a.k.a.A Place Called Glory) (1965) and in the anthology Killer's Carnival (1966).[ citation needed ]
Pierre Brice died of pneumonia on 6 June 2015 in a Paris hospital.
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Like Lex Barker (who recorded two tracks as a singer), 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 did not understand the language at the time of recording, he had to sing them phonetically.
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