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27 January 2014

Fred Bertelmann (1925-2014)

On 22 January 2014, German singer and actor Fred Bertelmann (1925-2014) died. His biggest hit was the song Der lachende Vagabund (1957), which he also sang in the Schlager film of the same name.


German postcard by ISV, no. E 22. Photo: Constantin / Grimm.

Eurovision Song Contest


Fred Bertelmann was born in Duisburg, Germany in 1925. Aged 9 he became a chorister and later also studied cello, trumpet, guitar and singing.

In World War II, he fought in the Wehrmacht but then became a prisoner of war and was sent to Alabama, where he first heard of swing music. After his return to Germany he founded his own band and often performed in American GI clubs in Germany.

In 1950 he toured Sweden with Arne Hülphers and Zarah Leander. He also worked as a solo singer of Schlager songs.

His most popular song was the 1957 published Der lachende Vagabund, a cover version of Jim Lowes song Gambler’s Guitar.

Other hits include Wenn es Nacht wird in Montana, In Hamburg sind die Nächte lang, Zwei Gitarren am Meer, Ein kleines Lied auf allen Wegen, and Arrivederci Roma.

wice, in 1958 and 1964, he sang at the German preliminary round of the Eurovision Song Contest.


Belgian postcard by Cox, no. 25. With Conny Froboess.


German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag G.m.b.H., no. 019. Photo: Kolibri / Appelt.


German postcard by Terra-Color, no. F 170. Photo: Electrola / Melodie / Gloria / Sascha / Appelt.

Superhit


Fred Bertelmann performed one of his songs in the romantic comedy Pulverschnee nach Übersee/Powder Snow to Übersee (Hermann Leitner, 1956) with Adrian Hoven and Marianne Hold.

This lead to several more film parts. He played the lead in Der lachende Vagabund/The Laughing Rover (Thomas Engel, 1958) opposite Susanne Cramer, a tie-in on his superhit of a year earlier.

In total he appeared in 18 Schlager films, but he also starred in stage musicals as Kiss me Kate.

Since 1966 he was married to television presenter and actress Ruth Kappelsberger.

He was honoured with the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany.

In late 2013 he suffered from severe pneumonia. Fred Bertelmann died on 22 January 2014 in Berg, Upper Bavaria. He was 88.


Fred Bertelmann sings Der lachende Vagabund (1958). Source: Fritz5169 (YouTube).

Sources: FredBertelmann.de (German), Wikipedia (German and English), and IMDb.

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