14 October 2012

Paul Klinger

During the 1940's German actor Paul Klinger (1907 - 1971) starred in 'Blut und Boden' films of the Third Reich, and in the 1950’s he was a popular fatherly star of the German cinema. He appeared in over 70 films and also became known as the German voice of Bing Crosby and David Niven.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 123, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. G 198. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

Boyish Lovers and Loyal Friends
Paul Klinger was born as Paul Karl Heinrich Klinksik in Essen, Germany, in 1907. His parents were civil engineer Karl Heinrich Klinksik and Gertrud Emma Mathilde Uhlendahl. At the Helmholtz-Realgymnasium, he was a classmate of the later director Helmut Käutner. He studied at the Technische Hochschule München (Technical University Munich), where he once again met up with his old school friend Helmut Käutner. The latter persuaded him to change from architecture to a theatrical course. Later, the death of his father meant that he could no longer afford to study and Paul dropped out to work at at the Bayerische Landesbühne (a travelling theatre) in 1929. He then moved on to theatres in Koblenz, Oldenburg, Wroclaw and Düsseldorf, and from then on named himself Paul Klinger. In 1933, he joined Heinz Hilpert at Deutsches Theater Berlin. In the same year, Klinger made his film debut as a charming lover in Du sollst nicht begehren/You Shall Not Desire (1933, Richard Schneider-Ebenkoben). Immediately he was offered contracts by as well the Ufa, Terra Film as Tobis. It was the start of a successsful film career. During the 1930's and 1940's, Klinger mainly appeared in roles of boyish lovers and loyal friends, for instance alongside Camilla Horn in Gauner im Frack/Impostor in Dress-suit (1937, Johannes Riemann), or Olga Tschechova in Verliebtes Abenteuer/Adventure in Love (1938, Hans H. Zerlett).

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. A 2956/1, 1939-1940. Photo: Atelier Binz, Berlin.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Ross-Verlag, no. A 3398/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Blood and Soil
During the war, Paul Klinger played leading roles in two of Veit Harlan's dramas, the ‘Blut und Boden’ (blood and soil) melodrama Die goldene Stadt/The Golden City (1942) opposite Kristina Söderbaum, and in the adaptation of Theodor Storm's novel Immensee (1943), again with Söderbaum. He was also involved in the war film Spähtrupp Hallgarten (1941, Herbert B. Fredersdorf) and lent his voice to the propaganda film Ewiger Wald/Enchanted Forest (1936, Hanns Springer, Rolf von Sonjevski-Jamrowski). This documentary was a large-scale attempt to recast the history of the German people, according to the ‘blood and soil’ Nazi ideology, as the history of the German forest. As for his film work during the period of the Third Reich, Wikipedia cites theatrical director Hellmuth Matiasek: "His appearance and manner – evoking pre-war salons rather than the trenches of the Eastern Front – spared him from productions commissioned by Joseph Goebbels and he played in classics by Goethe, Theodor Storm and Fontane." A short film made early in the war, Barbara, did not get past the censor: in this he played the soldier husband of Lotte Werkmeister. However, when he was sent to the front, his wife would find fulfilment with a job on the railway.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3632/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3739/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Binz, Berlin.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Film-Foto-Verlag, no. A 3857/1, 1941-1944. Photo: Baumann / Ufa.

After the war, Paul Klinger took the leading role alongside Ilse Steppat in Kurt Maetzig's film debut Ehe im Schatten/Marriage in the Shadows (1947). The film was based on the biography of actor Joachim Gottschalk and is a reaction to the suffering of the Jews at the hands of the Nazis. Hal Erickson at AllMovie: "Historically important as the first postwar German film to tackle the issue of Hitler's treatment of the Jews, Marriage in the Shadows is otherwise an overlong, sometimes ponderous exercise." Next Klinger appeared in another artistic demanding film, Morgen ist alles besser/Everything Will Be Better Tomorrow (1948, Arthur Maria Rabenalt). In the 1950's he experienced the height of his popularity and became a public idol with fatherly parts in the Heimat-trilogy about the Immenhof farm, Die Mädels vom Immenhof/The Girls from Immenhof (1955, Wolfgang Schleif), Ferien auf Immenhof/Marriage at Immenhof (1957, Volker von Collande), and Ferien auf Immenhof/Holiday at Immenhof (1957, Hermann Leitner). In the Erich Kästner adaptations Pünktchen und Anton/Pünktchen and Anton (1953, Thomas Engel) and Das fliegende Klassenzimmer/The Flying Classroom (1954, Kurt Hoffmann) with the young Peter Kraus, Klinger played the stocking manufacturer Pogge, and the secluded non-smoker, respectively in these classic family films. To his other well-known films ot this period belong, Rosen-Resli/Rose-Girl Resli (1954, Harald Reinl), Ist Mama nicht fabelhaft?/Isn't Mama Fabulous? (1958, Peter Beauvais), and Sebastian Kneipp (1958, Wolfgang Liebeneiner).

Paul Klinger
German postcard by Das Programm von Heute, Zeitschrift für Film und Theater G.m.b.H., Berlin. (Reproduction in cooperation with Ross Verlag, Berlin). Photo: Adler-Film.

Paul Klinger
German postcard by WS-Druck,Wanne-Eickel, no. F 113. Photo: Bayer.

Synchrone Speaker
In the 1960’s Paul Klinger ususally worked for television. He also became well-known as a synchrone speaker. His was the German voice of Bing Crosby (in twelve films), but also of David Niven, Cary Grant, Jean Gabin, Stewart Granger and William Holden. In his last film role, Klinger played a gangster in the adventure Das Geheimnis der drei Dschunken/Red Dragon (1965, Ernst Hofbauer). He was married to the actresses Hildegard Wolf and Karin Andersen. He had three children. Paul Klinger died of a heart attack in Munich in 1971. It happened while he was attending a union meeting of the Bundesfachgruppe der Film- und Fernsehschaffenden of the Deutsche Angestellten-Gewerkschaft. In 1974, the non-profit association ‘Paul-Klinger-Künstlersozialwerk e.V.’ (Paul Klinger Artist Welfare-Aid Foundation) was founded to honour his work for disadvantaged artists. In 2007, the German post published a special stamp for his 100th Birthday with a detail of the poster for his film Hengst Maestoso Austria/Stallion Maestoso Austria(1956, Hermann Kugelstadt) with Nadia Gray. In his birthplace Essen, a street was named after him.

Scenes from Wenn der weisse flieder wieder blüht (1953) with Romy Schneider in her first film. Source: RomyPortal (YouTube).

Final scene of Die sieben Kleider der Katrin/The Seven Dresses of Katrin (1954, Hans Deppe) with Sonja Ziemann and Paul Klinger.

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

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