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24 December 2015

Horst Janson

Horst Janson (1935) was one of Germany’s most popular film and television actors of the 1970s. He had his breakthrough when he played the first male character with long hair in German television history, in the hit show Der Bastian (1973). Janson appeared in many international films, including Spaghetti Westerns with Franco Nero and Tomas Milian.

Horst Janson
German autograph card. Photo: Eva Renzi.

Horst Janson
German autograph card by Simon Offset, München. Photo: Fotex / W. Van Eick, Hamburg.

Salto Mortale


Horst Janson was born in Mainz-Kastel, Germany, in 1935. His career started very early with the film Buddenbrooks (Alfred Weidenmann, 1959), based on the novel by Thomas Mann.

He then featured in Helmut Käutner’s Das Glas Wasser/A Glass of Water (1960), where he played alongside Gustaf Gründgens, Hilde Krahl, Liselotte Pulver and Sabine Sinjen.

He appeared in films such as Ruf der Wildgänse/The Cry of the Wild Geese (Hans Heinrich, 1961), Das Riesenrad/The Giant Wheel (Géza von Radványi, 1961) with Maria Schell, Das Mädchen und der Staatsanwalt/The girl and the prosecutor (Jürgen Goslar, 1962) and Robert Siodmak’s Escape from East Berlin (1962) with Don Murray.

Television discovered him early and he appeared in the TV film Bernadette Soubirous (Hans Quest, 1961). In 1969 he worked on the TV series Salto Mortale (Michael Braun, 1969). He played supporting parts in the British war films You Can't Win 'Em All (Peter Collinson, 1970), starring Tony Curtis and Charles Bronson, The McKenzie Break (Lamont Johnson, 1970), and Murphy's War (Peter Yates, 1971), starring Peter O'Toole and Siân Phillips.

Then he returned to the German cinema and played a supporting part in the comedy Der Kapitän/The Captain (Kurt Hoffmann, 1971). Heinz Rühmann plays the captain of an old tramp steamer, who is offered the chance to take over a luxury cruise ship. In Italy, Janson appeared in the comic Spaghetti Westerns Viva la muerte... tua!/Long Live Your Death (Duccio Tessari, 1971), starring Franco Nero and Eli Wallach, and La vita a volte è molto dura, vero Provvidenza?/Life Is Tough, Eh Providence? (Giulio Petroni, 1972) featuring Tomas Milian.

Horst Janson
German autograph card by Simon Offset, München. Photo: Hans Rauchensteiner.

Horst Janson
German autograph card by Simon Offset, München.

The first male character with long hair


Horst Janson had his breakthrough when he played the first male character with long hair in German television history, on the hit show Der Bastian (1973). Although he played a twenty-something, he was 37 years old at the time. During this period, he won several awards like the Golden Otto (1973) by Bravo magazine and the Bambi in 1974 as the most popular actor.

In the cinema he starred in the violent mob thriller Zinksärge für die Goldjungen/Battle of the Godfathers (Jürgen Roland, 1973). In Great-Britain he played the lead in the Hammer horror film Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (Brian Clemens, 1974) with Caroline Munro.

He had a supporting part in the British war adventure Shout at the Devil (Peter R. Hunt, 1976), starring Lee Marvin and Roger Moore. The film is set in Zanzibar and German East Africa in 1913–1915. Another war film was Breakthrough (Andrew V. MacLaglen, 1979), set on the Western Front. The picture is a sequel to Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron (1977), and starred big names like Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum and Rod Steiger.

On television, he appeared in Sesamstraße (1980-1983), the German version of Sesame Street. In 1986, he appeared in The Last Days of Patton (Delbert Mann, 1986), a made-for-television film sequel to the film Patton (1970), which portrays the last few months of the general's life, with George C. Scott reprising his role as Patton.

Janson played the character of Captain Bernd Jensen in the TV series Unter weissen Segeln/In White Sails (2004-2006). He also does a lot of theatre tours. In 1998, he played Old Shatterhand at the Karl May Festival in Bad Segeberg. Recently, he appeared in the international film La corona spezzata/The broken Crown (Ruben Maria Soriquez, 2014).

Horst Janson lives with his family in Munich. He has been married to Helgardt 'Hella' Ruthardt since 1982. They have two children, Sarah-Jane (1984) and Laura-Marie (1986). He was previously married to actress Monika Lundi.


German trailer for Viva la muerte... tua!/Long Live Your Death (Duccio Tessari, 1971). Source: Downdarren (YouTube).


Scenes from the TV series Der Bastian (1973). Source: TV Kult (YouTube).


Trailer Captain Kronos - Vampire Hunter (Brian Clemens, 1974). Source: Ian Hendry (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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