06 July 2015

Gerhard Riedmann

Austrian film actor Gerhard Riedmann (1925–2004) was the romantic lead in German and Austrian musical comedies, operettas and Heimatfilms of the 1950s and 1960s.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. CK-52. Photo: Werler / Prisma-Film.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Franz Josef Rudel, Hamburg-Bergedorf, no. 2291. Photo: CCC / Deutsche Film Hansa / A. Grimm.

The Bird Seller

Gerhard Anton Riedmann was born in Vienna, the capital of Austria in 1925. He was the son of a railway official. Riedmann studied music (violin) for one year and then moved to the Max-Reinhardt-Seminar. His first stage parts were at the Theater an der Josefstadt in Vienna.

In 1948 he made his film debut with an uncredited bit role in Das andere Leben/The Different Life (Rudolf Steinboeck, 1948), made by the crew and cast of the Viennese Theater an der Josefsstadt. At IMDb, Martin Kukuczka writes: “The story is based upon the novel by Alexander Lernet-Holenia. Interestingly, it has not lost any of its vigour or message and still appears to work perfectly as a post-WWII social insight and, more powerfully, the judgment of the time.”

Riedmann had his breakthrough as Adam, the title character in Der Vogelhändler/The Bird Seller (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953), based on the popular operetta by Carl Zeller. His co-stars were Ilse Werner, Wolf Albach Retty and Eva Probst, who would become his first wife.

Next he played the male lead in another operetta, Der Vetter aus Dingsda/The Cousin from Nowhere (Karl Anton, 1953), also starring Vera Molnar and Grethe Weiser. The film was based on the 1921 operetta Der Vetter aus Dingsda composed by Eduard Künneke. Another popular operetta adaptation was Der Zigeunerbaron/The Gypsy Baron (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954) with Paul Hörbiger and Margit Saad.

In 1955 he played King Ludwig II in the American biographical film Magic Fire (William Dieterle, 1955) about the life of composer Richard Wagner (Alan Badel). The film depicted King Ludwig II's patronage of Wagner, without going into much detail about the king's controversial personality. The film, produced by independent film studio Republic Pictures, used a very large cast, opulent sets, and lavish costumes. Magic Fire was shot in Italy and Germany over 12 weeks. Since Republic was known primarily for Westerns and adventure serials, Magic Fire was one of the rare ‘prestige’ films to be produced by studio chief Herbert Yates. Nevertheless, critical response was mixed and box office receipts in the U.S. were disappointing.

Riedmann then played the title roles in the drama Oberwachtmeister Borck/Sergeant Borck (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1955) and the German musical Der Bettelstudent/The Beggar Student (Werner Jacobs, 1956) with Waltraut Haas and Elma Karlowa and based on the operetta Der Bettelstudent by Karl Millöcker. After a Polish aristocrat refuses to marry a Colonel, he manoeuvers to force her to marry a penniless student in revenge. The following year, he played the lead in Der Graf von Luxemburg/The Count of Luxemburg (Werner Jacobs, 1957) based on the operetta Der Graf von Luxemburg by Franz Lehár.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 898. Photo: Berolina-Film / Allianz Film / Filip. Publicity still for Der Vogelhändler/The Bird Seller (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1953).

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Kunst und Bild, Berlin, no. A 1127. Photo: Berolina-Film / Herzog-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Der Zigeunerbaron/The Gypsy Baron (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1954).

Gerhard Riedmann
Belgian postcard by DRC, no. 3692. Photo: Arthur Grimm / Ufa.

Gerhard Riedmann
German autograph card. Photo: Algefa / Allianz / Grimm. Publicity still for Oberwachtmeister Borck/Sergeant Borck (Gerhard Lamprecht, 1955).

Margit Nünke and Gerhard Riedmann in Geliebte Bestie (19590
Dutch postcard by DRC Holland, no. 1223. Photo: Ufa. Publicity still for Geliebte Bestie/Hippodrome (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1959) with Margit Nünke.


During the early 1960s, Gerhard Riedmann continued to star in light entertainment films like the Austrian comedy Ich heirate Herrn Direktor/I'm getting married to the director (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1960) with Heidelinde Weiss, and the Heimat film Waldrausch (Paul May, 1962) starring Marianne Hold. In Waldrausch, Riedmann played an architect, who proposes a plan to build a damn, flooding a valley. A farmer tries to block the ambitious plans.

When the German cinema imploded, he focused more on television, where he remade old film successes as Der Vogelhändler (Kurt Wilhelm, 1960). He then had a supporting part in the Czechoslovak film Dýmky/The Pipes (Vojtěch Jasný, 1966), which was entered into the 1966 Cannes Film Festival.

In Italy, he co-starred in the Spaghetti Western Clint il solitario/Clint the Stranger (Alfonso Balcázar, 1967) with George Martin and Marianne Koch. He also starred in Die nackte Bovary/Madame Bovary (Hans Schott-Schönbinger, 1969) with Edwige Fenech as Gustave Flaubert’s heroin.

In 1977 he played a supporting part in the remake of Waldrausch (Horst Hächler, 1977) starring Uschi Glas. His last screen role was in the TV series Der Bergdoktor/The mountain doctor (1992–1997).

When not acting in films or on stage (notably at the Munich Kammerspiele), he was employed as Project Director in his father-in-law's glass and optics factory.

Gerhard Riedmann died in Kematen in the Tyrol region of Austria. He was married to the actress Eva Probst from 1954 till 1960. His second marriage was to Anita Swarowski. Since 1991 he was married to Gertrud Anna Wettstein. He had seven children.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 1986. Photo: Neubach / Constantin / Bockelberg. Publicity still for Die Fischerin vom Bodensee/The Fisher-girl from Lake Bodensee (Harald Reinl, 1956).

Gerhard Riedmann
Austrian postcard by Kellner-Fotokarten, Wien, no. 1059. Photo: Neubach / Constantin. Publicity still for Die Prinzessin von St. Wolfgang/The Princess of St. Wolfgang (Harald Reinl, 1957).

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. 432. Photo: Saschafilm.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3829. Photo: Meroth / Sascha Film / Gloria.

Gerhard Riedmann
German postcard by Ufa, Berlin-Tempelhof, no. FK 3326. Photo: Berolina-Film / Constantin-Film / Wesel. Publicity still for Liebe ist ja nur ein Märchen/Love is just a fairytale (Arthur Maria Rabenalt, 1955).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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