Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg, Rotterdam, no. 4488. Photo: Ufa / Erwin Schneider.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 588. Photo: Interwest / Europa / Reuter. Publicity still for Meine 99 Bräute/My 99 Brides (Alfred Vohrer, 1958).
German postcard by Kolibri / Friedrich W. Sander Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 3138. Photo: Electrola / Jung.
Claus Wilcke was born in Bremen, Germany, in 1931. He had a classic acting training and graduated, trained for stunts in London and played many sports such as fencing and riding. For four year he worked for the Bremer Theater.
In 1958 the attractive young actor made his cinema debut as a suburb playboy in Meine 99 Bräute/My 99 brides (Alfred Vohrer, 1958).
This first leading role was followed by smaller roles in a series of well-made crime dramas: Verbrechen nach Schulschluß/The Young Go Wild (Alfred Vohrer, 1959), the biographical Die Wahrheit über Rosemarie/The Truth about Rosemarie (Rudolf Jugert, 1959) with Belinda Lee as the legendary call-girl, Am Tag, als der Regen kam/The Day the Rains Came (Gerd Oswald, 1959) with Mario Adorf, Lampenfieber/Lamp Fever (Kurt Hoffmann, 1960) and Via Mala (Paul May, 1961) starring Gert Fröbe and Joachim Hansen.
He played another lead role opposite Hannelore Elsner in Das Mädchen mit den schmalen Hüften/The girl with the slim hips (Johannes Kai, 1961).
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden /Westf., no. 1222. Photo: Kolibri / Filipp.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 650. Photo: Kolibri / Erwin Schneider.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 692. Photo: Kolibri / Erwin Schneider.
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 375. Photo: Interwest / Europa / Ringpress / Vogelmann. Publicity still for Meine 99 Bräute/My 99 brides (Alfred Vohrer, 1958).
Dynamic millionaire detective
During the 1960s, the German cinema was in a crisis and Claus Wilcke – like many other German film actors – focused on stage and television.
He guest-starred in episodes of Krimi series like Das Kriminalmuseum/The Criminal Museum (1963), John Klings Abenteuer/John Kling (1965), and Kommissar Brahm/Commissionar Brahm (1967) starring Paul Klinger.
In 1969 he was cast for the title role in the Krimi series Percy Stuart (1969-1972). The role of the dynamic millionaire detective made him incredibly popular in Germany. Nearly all of his stunts were done by himself because the insurance companies back then didn't hinder him.
Later he played roles in numerous other German TV shows, including the Krimi I.O.B. Spezialauftrag/I.O.B. special order (1980-1981) and on theatre stages all over Germany, Switzerland and Austria. More than 600 times, he played in the comedy Irma la Douce.
He was also a very sought-after voice-over actor. He was the German voice of Elvis Presley, Omar Sharif (in Lawrence von Arabien/Lawrence of Arabia), George Hamilton and Warren Beatty.
Incidentally he appeared in feature films. He played a lead in the comedy Halt die Luft an alter Gauner - Der Stockfisch und das Stinktier/Hold the air for the old rascals - The stockfish and the skunk (Günter Goldhammer, Peter Harlos, 1976).
More recently, he had a cameo appearance in Iron Sky (Timo Vuorensola, 2012), a sci-fi comedy about Nazis from the moon. He played the white-bearded Russian representative at the international conference who repeatedly laughs at the fictitious President of the United States until he gets angry and throws a shoe at her.
Claus Wilcke was married three times. His current wife is Beate Eckhardt. He has two children, the actors Nicolas Böll and Alexandra Wilcke.
German postcard. Photo: Optagon / Hamburgische Film- und Fernseh Produktion / ZDF. Publicity still for the TV series Percy Stuart (1969).
German postcard by Electrola, no. 1. Photo: Peter Michaelis, Hamburg.
German autograph card. Photo: Tele-Optagon.
Trailer for Percy Stuart (1969-1972). Source: ARDVideo (YouTube).
Sources: Stephanie D’heil (Steffi-Line), Wikipedia (English and German), and IMDb.