Yesterday, German actor Walter Giller has died from lung cancer at the age of 84. Giller was the cute boy next door of the German cinema of the 1950’s. With Nadja Tiller he became a Dream Couple of the European cinema.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, no. 708. Photo: Filmaufbau.
Prisoner of War
Walter Giller was born in Recklinghausen, Germany in 1927. He was the son of the children’s doctor Dr. Walter Giller and Edwine Giller-Röver and grew up in the Hamburg borough of Hamm. In 1942, at the age of 15 the grammar school pupil was ordered to serve as a Flakhelfer (a German student deployed as child soldier during World War II) in anti-aircraft support. In 1944, Giller became a prisoner of war but got released after staying in a sanatorium for one year to recuperate from a torn lung. Giller then started to study medicine but soon quit his studies to become a trainee at Hamburg's Kammerspiele where he also worked as an assistant director. He later attended actor's training and worked as a supporting actor and assistant director. Giller made his film debut in Artistenblut/Artist’s Blood (1949, Wolfgang Wehrum) starring Hans Richter, which was followed by Kein Engel ist so rein/No Angel Is As Pure (1950, Helmut Weiss).
East-German card by VEB Progress Film-Vertreib, Berlin, nr. 27/322, 1957. Photo: Real Film. Publicity still for Die Tolle Lola (1954, Hans Deppe).
Shy Teenage Lover
Walter Giller mainly appeared in the part of the shy teenage lover, for instance as a student in Primanerinnen/Sixth-Formers (1951, Rolf Thiele) with Ingrid Andree. In 1953, Giller quit working at the theatre to focus on his film career, and soon started to play comic roles in light entertainment films like Liebe im Finanzamt/Love in the Tax Office (1952, Kurt Hoffmann), Skandal im Mädchenpensionat/Scandal at the Girls' School (1953, Erich Kobler) with Marianne Koch, and An jedem Finger zehn/Ten on Every Finger (1954, Erik Ode) with Germaine Damar. Often comical, often shy, but always cute and never abusive he represented in numerous productions the boy next door. In 1956 Giller married beautiful actress Nadja Tiller. In the 1950’s and 1960’s they were seen as a Traumpaar (Dream Couple) of the German entertainment world. In 1956 Giller played next to Heinz Rühmann in the classic comedy Der Hauptmann von Köpenick/The Captain from Köpenick (1956, Helmut Kautner). In 1959 he won the Bundesfilmpreis for his role in Rosen für den Staatsanwalt/Roses for the Prosecutor (1959, Wolfgang Staudte) as a man sentenced to death for a minor offence during the last months of the war who meets his judge (Martin Held) after the war. Two years later Giller won the the Bundesfilmpreis again for his role as a trucker from East Berlin in the East-West drama Zwei unter Millionen/Two Among Millions (1961, Victor Vicas, Wieland Liebske).
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 47. Photo: Huster.
German postcard by Filmbilder-Vertrieb Ernst Freihoff, Essen, no. 146. Retail price: 10 Pfg. Photo: Arthur Grimm.
Predestined for a Great Film Career
Walter Giller seemed predestined for a great film career, but in the 1960’s he appeared mainly in Krimis (German crime films), Karl May westerns and Pauker comedies. He starred in the international production Fanny Hill (1964, Russ Meyer) and in remakes of the Heinz Rühmann successes Die Drei von der Tankstelle/The Three of the Tank Station (1955, Hans Wolff) and Die Feuerzangenbowle/The Fire Tongue Bowl (1970, Helmut Käutner) but to no avail. One of Walter Giller's few important roles was the part as writer Daddy in the Kurt Tucholsky adaptation Schloss Gripsholm/The Gripsholm Castle (1963, Kurt Hoffmann). He had also played the lead in the award winning TV film Der geborgte Weihnachtsbaum/The Borrowed Christmas Tree (1966, Dietrich Haugk). From the 1970’s on, he changed his focus to television series as Das Traumschiff/The Dream Boat (1983) and Sylter Geschichten/Tales From Sylt (1995, Karsten Wichniarz). He intensified his stage work, and did many tours, often together with Nadja Tiller. In 2006 the duo won a Bambi award for their lifetime achievements. They have a daughter, Natascha, and a son, Jan-Claudius. The last years they lived in a retirement home in Hamburg. There Walter Giller died on 15 december 2011, aged 84.
German postcard by ISV, no. M 3. Photo: Europa Film/Grimm.
Big German card by ISV, no. MX 3. Photo: Europa Film/Grimm.
Sources: Tom B. (Boot Hill), Filmportal.de, Wikipedia, Prisma, and IMDb.