10 January 2016

Jaecki Schwarz

As a student, Jaecki Schwarz (1946) had his breakthrough with his lead role in the war film Ich war neunzehn/I was nineteen (Konrad Wolf, 1968). With his non-conventional acting style and his dry humour, he became a popular actor in dozens of DEFA films and East-German TV productions.

Jaecki Schwarz
East-German card by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 3297, 1968. Photo: Uhlenhut.

Jaecki Schwarz
East-German card by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 134/69, 1969. Photo: Uhlenhut.

I was nineteen

Jaecki Schwarz was born in Berlin in 1946. He attended the Alexander von Humboldt high school in Berlin, and completed an apprenticeship as a photo chemical technician. Then he applied twice at various drama schools, but after the aptitude test he was rejected. On the third try he succeeded and between 1965 and 1969, he studied at the Konrad Wolf Academy of Film and Television in Potsdam-Babelsberg.

Still a student, he became famous when he starred in the DEFA film Ich war neunzehn/I was nineteen (Konrad Wolf, 1968). In this film, Schwarz plays a young German, Gregor Hecker, who when he was eight fled the Nazis with his parents to Moscow. In early 1945, he returns to Germany as a lieutenant in the Red Army and is confronted with the dilemma of having to fight men from the very country he was born in. The film depicts the personal experiences of the director Konrad Wolf and of his friend Vladimir Gall in fictionalised form and deals with themes of the meaning of ‘homeland’.

William Shackleford at IMDb: “The intent of the movie, made in the GDR at a time when they were barraged with propaganda trying to make them believe that Russians were their friends, is obvious. Nevertheless, I did enjoy watching it, because even propaganda can be interesting for what it is.”

During its original run, Ich war neunzehn sold 3,317,966 tickets and this made it one of the highest grossing DEFA films ever. Schwaerz played leading roles in DEFA films like Weite Strassen stille Liebe/Wide streets silent love (Herrmann Zschoche, 1969) with Manfred Krug, Du und ich und Klein-Paris/You and Me and Little-Paris (Werner W. Wallroth, 1971), and Die Schlüssel/The Key (Egon Günther, 1972) starring Jutta Hoffmann.

He also became also a busy theatre actor and played on the stages of the City theatre of Magdeburg (1969-1974), the Berliner Ensemble (1974-1997) and at the Maxim Gorki Theater in Berlin. However, Schwarz appeared particularly in countless television films.

Jaecki Schwarz
Big East-German card by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 351/60, 1969. Photo: Uhlenhut.

Jaecki Schwarz
East-German postcard by VEB Progress Filmvertrieb, Berlin, no. 207/70, 1970. Photo: Uhlenhut.

Police Call 110

During the 1970s, Jaecki Schwarz played supporting parts in such films as the fairy tale Das blaue Licht/The Blue Light (Iris Gusner, 1976) and the comedy Einfach Blumen aufs Dach/Simply flowers on the roof (Roland Oehme, 1979).

During the following decades he played supporting parts in films, e.g. in Bürgschaft für ein Jahr/Guarantee for one year (Herrmann Zschoche, 1981), the comedy Märkische Forschungen/Exploring the Brandenburg Marches (Roland Gräf, 1982), the family film Hasenherz/Rabbit heart (Gunter Friedrich, 1988) and the road movie Burning Life (Peter Welz, 1994) with Maria Schrader, but he worked more and more for TV.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Schwarz easily continued his television career. From 1996 on, he played police chief Herbert Schmücke in the long-running Krimi series Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110. The series was originally created in the GDR as a counterpart to the West German Krimi series Tatort, and quickly became a public favourite. Schwarz’s 50th and final case in the series was broadcast on 3 March 2013. In the ZDF series Ein starkes Team/A strong team (1994-), Schwarz plays the supporting role of Sputnik.

In 2004, Schwarz officially announced that he is gay. Schwarz is one of the members of the Board of Trustees of the Initiative Queer Nations. In addition, he serves as a honorary ambassador of a Children's Foundation Hospice Central. in Tambach-Dietharz.

Jaecki Schwarz has appeared in more than 120 films and TV productions. He lives in Berlin.

Jaecki Schwarz
German promotion card by Das Erste MDR Fernsehen, Leipzig. Photo: fmp Hillert. Publicity still for Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (1996-2013).

Jaecki Schwarz in Polizeiruf 110
German promotion card by Das Erste MDR Fernsehen, Leipzig. Photo: MDR / Martin Jehnichen. Publicity still for Polizeiruf 110/Police Call 110 (1996-2013).

Trailer Hasenherz/Rabbit heart (Gunter Friedrich, 1988). Source: DEFA-Stiftung (YouTube).

Sources: Ines Walk (FilmZeit.de – German), Wikipedia (German), and IMDb.

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