21 August 2015

Peter Alexander

Peter Alexander (1926-2011) was an Austrian film actor and schlager- and operetta singer. He became popular in the 1950s and 1960s with his numerous roles in German musical comedies.

Peter Alexander (1926-2011)
German postcard by ISV, no. H 142.

Peter Alexander, Caterina Valente, Silvio Francesco
German postcard by WS-Druck, Wanne-Eickel, no. F 73. Photo: Lantin.

Peter Alexander
Belgian postcard by Edition H. Troukens, Hofstade, no. 1028. Photo: Ufa.


Peter Alexander was born in 1926 as Peter Alexander Ferdinand Maximilian Neumayer in Vienna, Austria. During World War II, he was a member of the Luftwaffenhelfer and the Reichsarbeitsdienst before being drafted into the navy. In 1945, he was captured by the British and held as a prisoner-of-war.

After the war he attended Vienna's Max Reinhardt Seminary until 1948 and then started a career as an actor. His first film appearance was an uncredited bit part in Der Engel mit der Posaune/The Angel with the Trumpet (Karl Hartl, 1948).

In 1951 Alexander released his first record, Das machen nur die Beine von Dolores, which reached the hit parade. Till 1982 there would be another 40 Top 10 hits and he sold a total of 46 million records.

From 1952 on he appeared as a singer in films like Verlorene Melodie/Vanished Melody (Eduard von Borsody, 1952), Salto Mortale (Viktor Tourjansky, 1953), and Die Große Starparade/The Big Star Parade (Paul Martin, 1954).

In 1953 he won the contest Deutschen Musikwettbewerb in München (Munich) before Vico Torriani and Gerhard Wendland.

The next year he starred with Caterina Valente and Silvio Francesco in the musical comedy Liebe, Tanz und 1000 Schlager/Love, Dance, and 1000 Songs (Paul Martin, 1955). The threesome appeared again in Bonjour Kathrin (Karl Anton, 1956).

Caterina Valente, Silvio Francesco, Peter Alexander in Bonjour, Kathrin (1956)
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Film-Vertrieb, no. 164, 1956. Retail price: 0,20 DM. Photo: publicity still for Bonjour, Kathrin (Karl Anton, 1956) with Caterina Valente and Silvio Francesco.

Peter Alexander (1926-2011)
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1222. Photo: Ufa.

Peter Alexander and Bibi Johns in Wehe, wenn sie losgelassen (1958)
German postcard by Kolibri-Verlag, Minden/Westf., no. 399. Photo: Arthur Grimm / CCC / Constantin. Publicity still for Wehe, wenn sie losgelassen/Beware when she is released (Géza von Cziffra, 1958).

Ingrid Andree, Peter Alexander
Dutch postcard by Gebr. Spanjersberg N.V., Rotterdam, no. 1218/459. Photo: UFA (Universum-Film Aktiengesellschaft, Berlin-Tempelhof). This is obviously a publicity still for the comedy Schlag auf Schlag/Blow On Blow (Géza von Cziffra, 1959) which starred Peter Alexander, Wolfgang Wahl, Ralf Wolter, and Ingrid Andree.

Count Bobby Pinelski

In the following decades Peter Alexander made some 30 entertainment films, including Ein Mann muß nicht immer schön sein/A Man Doesn't Always Need to Be Handsome (Hans Quest, 1956), Münchhausen in Afrika (Werner Jacobs, 1958), Peter schießt den Vogel ab/Peter Shoots the Bird (Géza von Cziffra, 1959), the operetta film Im weißen Rößl/The White Horse Inn (Werner Jacobs, 1960), the fine Jaroslav Hasek adaptation Schwejks Flegeljahre/Schweik's Years of Indiscretion (Wolfgang Liebeneiner, 1963), and Hilfe, meine Braut klaut/Help, My Bride Steals (Werner Jacobs, 1964) opposite Conny Froboess.

Günther Philipp was often his partner in these films. In the 1960s Peter Alexander also starred in the popular Count Bobby Pinelski films, like Die Abenteuer des Grafen Bobby/The Adventures of Count Bobby (Géza von Cziffra, 1961) with Vivi Bach, and the silly Luemmel-series, like Hurra, die Schule brennt/Hurrah, the School Is Burning (Werner Jacobs, 1969) with Dutch child star Heintje Simons.

In 1969, Peter Alexander started a second career as a TV host, with the Peter Alexander Show. He is considered Austria`s most popular entertainer of the 1970s and 1980s. He was famous for his parodies, including Queen Elizabeth II, and the four leading characters of the TV series The Golden Girls.

In 1952 Peter Alexander had married actress Hilde Haagen, who became his manager. The couple had two children, Susanne and Michael. Since the death of his wife in 2003, he lived in his house in Vienna, completely retired from the public. His daughter, the artist Susanne Neumayer-Haidinger, passed away in 2009. Peter Alexander died in 2011, aged 84, in his native Vienna. He was survived by his son and two grandchildren.

Trailer Kriminaltango (Géza von Cziffra, 1960). Source: Arild Rafalzik (YouTube).

Trailer of Hilfe, meine Braut klaut (1964) with Conny Froboess and Peter Alexander. Source: Conny Froboess (YouTube).

Trailer for Hauptsache Ferien (1972). Source: Rialto Film (YouTube).

Sources: Wikipedia and IMDb.

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