Pierre Brice

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Pierre Brice

Pierre Brice.jpg

Pierre Brice, in 2004
Born(1929-02-06)6 February 1929
Brest, France
Died 6 June 2015(2015-06-06) (aged 86)
Paris, France
Occupation Actor
Nationality French
Period 1962–1997
Genre Western

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. [1]

Winnetou fictional Native American

Winnetou is a fictional Native American hero of several novels written in German by Karl May (1842–1912), one of the best-selling German writers of all time with about 200 million copies worldwide, including the Winnetou-trilogy. The character made its debut in the novel Old Firehand (1875).


Life and films

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.

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

French Army Land warfare branch of Frances military

The French Army, officially the Ground Army to distinguish it from the French Air Force, Armée de l'Air or Air Army, is the land-based and largest component of the French Armed Forces. It is responsible to the Government of France, along with the other four components of the Armed Forces. The current Chief of Staff of the French Army (CEMAT) is General Jean-Pierre Bosser, a direct subordinate of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA). General Bosser is also responsible, in part, to the Ministry of the Armed Forces for organization, preparation, use of forces, as well as planning and programming, equipment and Army future acquisitions. For active service, Army units are placed under the authority of the Chief of the Defence Staff (CEMA), who is responsible to the President of France for planning for, and use, of forces.

First Indochina War 1946-1954 war between France and Ho Chi Minhs forces

The First Indochina War began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, and lasted until July 20, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945. The conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Bảo Đại's Vietnamese National Army against the Việt Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People's Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and also extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia.

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.)

Western (genre) multimedia genre of stories set primarily in the American Old West

Western is a genre of various arts which tell stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, often centering on the life of a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter armed with a revolver and a rifle who rides a horse. Cowboys and gunslingers typically wear Stetson hats, neckerchief bandannas, vests, spurs, cowboy boots and buckskins. Recurring characters include the aforementioned cowboys, Native Americans, bandits, lawmen, bounty hunters, outlaws, gamblers, soldiers, and settlers. The ambience is usually punctuated with a Western music score, including American and Mexican folk music such as country, Native American music, New Mexico music, and rancheras.

Karl May German writer

Karl Friedrich May was a German writer best known for his adventure novels set in the American Old West. His main protagonists are Winnetou and Old Shatterhand. May set similar books in the Orient and Middle East, Latin America and Germany. May also wrote poetry, a play, and composed music; he was a proficient player of several musical instruments. Many of his works were adapted for film, stage, audio dramas and comics. Later in his career, May turned to philosophical and spiritual genres. He is one of the best-selling German writers of all time with about 200 million copies worldwide.

Native Americans in the United States Indigenous peoples of the North,Central,and South America(except Hawaii)

Native Americans, also known as American Indians, Indigenous Americans and other terms, are the indigenous peoples of the United States, except Hawaii. There are over 500 federally recognized tribes within the US, about half of which are associated with Indian reservations. The term "American Indian" excludes Native Hawaiians and some Alaska Natives, while Native Americans are American Indians, plus Alaska Natives of all ethnicities. Native Hawaiians are not counted as Native Americans by the US Census, instead being included in the Census grouping of "Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander".

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.[ citation needed ]

Ein Schloß am Wörthersee is an Austrian comedy television series.

Mein Freund Winnetou is a German television series.

Television Telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images

Television (TV), sometimes shortened to tele or telly, is a telecommunication medium used for transmitting moving images in monochrome, or in color, and in two or three dimensions and sound. The term can refer to a television set, a television program, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, entertainment and news.

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 ]

<i>Star Maidens</i> television series

Star Maidens is a British-German science-fiction television series made by Portman Productions for the ITV network. Produced in 1975, and first broadcast in 1976, it was filmed at Bray Studios and on location in Windsor and Bracknell, Berkshire, and Black Park, Buckinghamshire. The series was partly financed by a German company, Werbung im Rundfunk, which dealt with distributing funding from the limited commercials shown on West German public TV. In this case, it was acting on behalf of the channel ZDF, which showed the series in West Germany.

Zorro fictional character

Zorro is a fictional character created in 1919 by American pulp writer Johnston McCulley, and appearing in works set in the Pueblo of Los Angeles during the era of Spanish California (1769–1821). He is typically portrayed as a dashing masked vigilante who defends the commoners and indigenous peoples of California against corrupt and tyrannical officials and other villains. His signature all-black costume includes a cape, a hat known as a sombrero cordobés, and a mask covering the upper half of his face.

<i>Samson and the Slave Queen</i> 1962 Italian adventure film directed by Umberto Lenzi

Samson and the Slave Queen is a 1963 Italian peplum directed by Umberto Lenzi. It was originally made as a Maciste film in Italy, in which the fabled strongman meets Zorro. It was redubbed into a "Samson" movie for distribution in the U.S.

Pierre Brice died of pneumonia on 6 June 2015 in a Paris hospital. [2]

Pneumonia Infection of the lungs

Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung affecting primarily the small air sacs known as alveoli. Typically symptoms include some combination of productive or dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Severity is variable.

Singing career

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.

Partial filmography

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Alexander Crichlow "Lex" Barker Jr. was an American actor best known for playing Tarzan of the Apes and leading characters from Karl May's novels.

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Martin Böttcher was a German composer, arranger and conductor.

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<i>Old Shatterhand</i> (film) 1964 film by Hugo Fregonese

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<i>Apache Gold</i> 1963 film by Harald Reinl

Apache Gold, also known as Winnetou the Warrior, is a 1963 Western film directed by Harald Reinl. It is based on the story of Winnetou, a fictional Native-American Apache hero from the Winnetou series of German novels. It was the highest-grossing film of 1963 in Germany, where it grossed €10 million, and it sold 66 million tickets at the worldwide box office.

<i>Treasure of the Silver Lake</i> 1962 film by Harald Reinl

The Treasure of the Silver Lake is a 1962 German western film directed by Harald Reinl. It is very loosely based on Karl May's novel of the same name.

<i>Winnetou and Old Firehand</i> 1966 film by Alfred Vohrer

Winnetou and Old Firehand is a 1966 western film directed by Alfred Vohrer and starring Pierre Brice, Rod Cameron and Marie Versini.

<i>Winnetou and the Crossbreed</i> 1966 film by Harald Philipp

Winnetou and the Crossbreed is a 1966 West German Western film directed by Harald Philipp and starring Lex Barker, Pierre Brice, Götz George and Uschi Glas. It is part of the series of Karl May adaptations produced by Rialto Film during the decade. It was co-produced with Italy and Yugoslavia. The budget was an estimated three and a half million Deutschmarks.

<i>The Valley of Death</i> (film) 1968 film by Harald Reinl

The Valley of Death or Winnetou and Shatterhand in the Valley of Death is a 1968 western film directed by Harald Reinl and starring Lex Barker, Pierre Brice and Rik Battaglia. It was the last in a series of films based on Karl May novels. These had previously enjoyed major commercial success, although this film's box office returns were disappointing. It was effectively a remake of an earlier film in the series Treasure of the Silver Lake.

<i>The Hell of Manitoba</i> 1965 film by Sheldon Reynolds

The Hell of Manitoba is a 1965 West-German-Spanish western film directed by Sheldon Reynolds and starring Lex Barker, Pierre Brice and Gérard Tichy. In the United States it was released under the alternative title of A Place Called Glory.


  1. Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2015 -Harris M. Lentz III - 0786476672 2016 -Page 40 French actor Pierre Brice, who was best known for his role as the Indian chief Winnetou in a series of westerns based on the works of German author Karl May, died of pneumonia in a Paris, France, hospital on June 6, 2015. He was 86.
  2. "Ein Leben als Winnetou". Sueddeutsche.de. Retrieved 6 June 2015.