09 March 2014

Wolfgang Lukschy

German actor Wolfgang Lukschy (1905-1983) performed in theatre, film and television. Between 1940 and 1979, he made over 75 film and television appearances. Best known is his role as gangster lord in the classic Spaghetti Western Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964), starring Clint Eastwood.

German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3704/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Gallant Lover

Wolfgang Lukschy was born in Berlin, Germany in 1905. He initially worked for several years as a apprentice process engraver (a graphic specialist), and later as a film copier.

In 1928, he took acting lessons from Paul Bildt and soon the 23 year old found work at various stages in Germany. Following an engagement at the Berlin Volksbühne, he performed in Stuttgart, Würzburg, Munich and Hanover. Eleven years later he returned to Berlin to perform at the Schiller Theatre.

In 1940 he played his first film role in Friedrich Schiller – Triumph eines Genies/Friedrich Schiller - Triumph of a genius (Herbert Maisch, 1940) with Horst Caspar as the 18th-century German playwright and blank-verse poet.

Till the end of the war only a few more film parts followed for Lukschy. He had a small part in the propaganda film Ohm Kruger/Uncle Kruger (Hans Steinhoff, 1941) in which Emil Jannings played South African politician Paul Kruger and his eventual defeat by the British during the Boer War.

He embodied the gallant lover in the excellent revue-film Die Frau meiner Träume/The woman of my dreams (Georg Jacoby, 1944) starring Marika Rökk. With this leading role in one of the first German films in colour, he reached the height of his popularity.

In 1944, he also had a supporting part in the drama Die Degenhardts/The Degenhardts (Werner Klingler, 1944). Heinrich George starred as Karl Degenhardt, the patriarch of a family in Lubeck, who leads his wife and five children through the opening stages of Second World War culminating in the Bombing of Lübeck on 28 March 1942 by the Royal Air Force. The film was part of a cycle of home front films produced in Germany during the war. Die Degenhardts was intended to fan anti-British sentiment and prepare Germans psychologically for the destruction of their cities by Allied bombing raids and invasions.

German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3465/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Shady Characters

After the Second World War, Wolfgang Lukschy operated both as a director and as an actor. He was still active in the theatre and in the cinema for the East-German studio Deutsche Film AG (DEFA).

In the early 1950s, he worked mainly in West-Germany. On stage he played about 500 times Professor Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady.

In the cinema he appeared in the charming remake of the famous children’s film Emil und die Detektive/Emil and the Detectives (Robert A. Stemmle, 1954) based on the famous novel by Erich Kästner, and in Heimatfilms like Das Mädchen vom Moorhof/The Girl from the Marsh Croft (Gustav Ucicky, 1958) featuring Maria Emo.

During the 1960s he starred in Edgar Wallace thrillers such as Die toten Augen von London/The Dead Eyes of London (Alfred Vohrer, 1961) and in Karl May Westerns including Old Surehand (Alfred Vohrer, 1965) featuring Stewart Granger.

Even in international films one could see him. He played Col. Gen. Alfred Jodl in the American war film The Longest Day (Bernhard Wicki a.o., 1962) and the gangster lord John Baxter in the classic Spaghetti Western Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) alongside Clint Eastwood and Gian Maria Volonté (as John Wells).

In his film roles, he presented now mostly shady characters who hide their excessive ambition or their questionable past behind outward correctness.

His film career dropped off in the 1970s. Lukschy played in the crime series Tatort (1970) and other television dramas. One of Lukschys main activities was film synchronization. He was often the German voice of James Mason, Walter Matthau, Stewart Granger, Gregory Peck, John Wayne and others.

Wolfgang Lukschy died in 1983 in Berlin. He had three sons: Wolfgang, Stefan and Mathias-Michael. Stefan Lukschy (1948) works as a director.

Italian trailer Per un pugno di dollari/A Fistful of Dollars (1964). Source: Cineocchio (YouTube).

Sources: Thomas Staedeli (Cyranos), Wikipedia (German and English) and IMDb.

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