Austrian singer Freddy Quinn (1931) adopted the persona of the rootless wanderer who goes to sea but longs for a home, family and friends. He sang and acted in many popular Schlagerfilms of the 1950’s and early 1960’s.
Belgian postcard by SB (S. Best), Antwerpen (Antwerp).
German postcard by ISV, no. E 17. Photo: Constantin / Grimm.
Freddy Quinn was born Franz Eugen Helmut Manfred Nidl in Niederfladnitz, Austria, in 1931. Quinn's Irish-sounding name comes from his Irish born salesman father, Johann Quinn. His mother, Edith Henriette Nidl, was an Austrian journalist. As a child Freddy lived in the US with his father, but he moved back to live with his mother in Europe and is now able to speak 12 different languages. In 1954, he was discovered in St. Pauli, the entertainment district of Hamburg, and was offered his first record contract. He represented Germany at the Eurovision Song Contest in 1956. He sang an atypical song, So geht das jede Nacht/Every Night It's Like That, about an unfaithful girlfriend who dates lots of men. All that, and he also lost the contest. His other songs are mostly about the endless sea and the solitary life in faraway lands.
Dutch postcard by Takken, Utrecht, no. 5909.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1323, circa 1959-1962. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof). Still from Freddy unter fremden Sternen (1959, Wolfgang Schleif) with Freddy Quinn and the young Christian Machalet.
60 Million Records
His first big hit was Heimweh/Homesick (1956), the German version of Dean Martin's Memories Are Made Of This. It sold over 8 million copies and ranked #1 in the German charts for five months. Other hits, often just as Freddy, followed such as Die Gitarre und das Meer/The Guitar and the Sea (1959), La Paloma (1961) and Junge, komm bald wieder/Boy, Come Back Soon (1963). He had ten number 1 hits in the German single charts between 1956 and 1966 and sold more than 60 million records. His popularity petered out in the 1970’s, but he continued performing for audiences who were growing old with him. About his private life, the singer kept mute. There were several rumors that he was gay. In 2004, it became clear that he had been married for 50 years with his manager Lilli Marianne Blessmann.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 4645.
Dutch postcard by Uitg. Takken, Utrecht, no. 4645.
German postcard by Ufa/Film-Foto, no. 4645. Photo: Melodie / Herzog-Film / Marszalek.
Freddy Quinn also acted in several films. He debuted with a bit part in Canaris/Canaris: Master Spy (1954, Alfred Weidenmann), a drama about Admiral Canaris (O.E. Hasse), chief of the intelligence service of Nazi Germany, and his attempt on Adolph Hitler’s life. Due to his musical success he performed in many Schlagerfilms, frequently cast as the seafaring loner. Titles include Freddy, die Gitarre und das Meer/Freddy, the Guitar and the Sea (1959, Wolfgang Schleif) with Corny Collins, Freddy unter fremden Sternen/Freddy Under Foreign Stars (1959, Wolfgang Schleif) with Gustav Knuth, Freddy und das Lied der Südsee/Freddy and the Song of the Southsea (1962, Werner Jacobs) and Heimweh nach St. Pauli/Homesick for St. Pauli (1963, Werner Jacobs) with Jayne Mansfield.
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. CK 148, ca. 1963. Photo: Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof (Ufa).
Big German card by ISV, no. EX 26. Photo: Constantin / Rapid / Winkler. Publicity Still for Heimweh nach St. Pauli/Homesick for St. Pauli (1963).
Subsequently, Freddy Quinn also performed on stage in diverse roles such as Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus (The Bat), the king in The King and I, and Lord Fancourt Babberly in Charley's Aunt. He was also an accomplished circus performer who stunned television audiences as a tightrope walker performing live and without a safety net. On another occasion, which was also televised, he rode a lion inside a circus cage while the lion was balancing atop a moving surface. Occasionally he made light entertainment films like Haie an Bord/Shark On Board (1971, Arthur Maria Rabenalt) co-starring Karin Dor or Die Wilden Fünfziger/The Wild Fifties (1983, Peter Zadek). Jam Omderwater at IMDb thinks the latter is rubbish: "Extremely nauseating film, probably set up as a satire on Das Wirtschaftswunder (German economic miracle of the fifties), but if based on a novel by Simmel, what is one to expect? It gets stuck in an orgy of bad jokes and lots of naked (but attractive) women who are there just for show; furthermore, everything is wrong here: acting, directing, scripting, editing etc." In 2004 Quinn was charged with tax evasion. He had declared Switzerland as his main residence while he had in fact been living in Hamburg, Germany. He pleaded guilty, paid all his tax debts (more than € 900,000), and eventually was fined € 150,000. Nowadays Freddy still lives in Hamburg. He no longer hits high in the charts with his recordings, but he continues to enjoy a large and nostalgic fan base in Germany.
Freddy sings So geht's jede Nacht. Source: Germany 956 (YouTube).
Freddy performs Allein, noch immer allein in Heimatlos (1958). Source: Fritz52120 (YouTube).
Freddy Quinn sings La Guitara Brasiliana (1961).Source: wjhmosamoreschlagers (YouTube).
Sources: Steve Leggelt (AllMovie), Wikipedia and IMDb.