Klaus Kinski

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Klaus Kinski

Klaus Kinski (October 18, 1926November 23, 1991): International film actor regarded as one of the best German actors of the second half of the 20th century. Kinski was born Nikolaus Karl Günther Nakszynski to an ethnic Polish father, Bruno Nakszynski, a pharmacist, and a Danzig (Gdansk) pastor's daughter named Susanne Lutze, in Zoppot (now Sopot, Poland), which was then located within the territory of the Free City of Danzig. In 1930/31, the family moved to Berlin and Kinski attended the Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium in Schöneberg.

As World War II engulfed Europe, Kinski was drafted into the German Army and served in the Netherlands. He supposedly spent his short term in the military flagging down American planes and begging them to shoot him. Kinski went AWOL and surrendered to the British forces. He spent most of his time during the war as a POW under British control. When he was in a POW camp, he discovered his acting talent performing for his fellow prisoners. After the war, he chose to return to West Germany rather than Poland due to the spread of Communism. He began acting and changed his name to Klaus Kinski. He started on stage in Germany, became a legend as a monologist (presenting the prose and verse of William Shakespeare and Francois Villon, among others), and soon moved, pragmatically, to film, where the money was better.

His film roles include A Time to Love and a Time to Die (1958), The Counterfeit Traitor (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965), For a Few Dollars More (1966), Grand Slam (movie) (1968). His international reputation is built on five collaborations with director Werner Herzog in the films Aguirre: The Wrath of God (1972), Woyzeck (based on the play by Georg Buchner) (1979), Nosferatu the Vampyre (1979), Fitzcarraldo (1982), and finally Cobra verde (1987). With his fluency in English, his unique appearance, and his ability to project on-screen intensity, Kinski was always able to get roles, although the quality of the productions varied wildly, most of them considered "junk" (Schrott) by Kinski himself.

He was an extremely hard worker and strove for perfection; however, he was frequently at odds with co-workers and directors and rarely a team player. He was a victim of the German directors he initially had to work with. To scream and shout abuse uncontrollably was common behaviour of theatre directors during rehearsals. This was seen as the only way to achieve perfection. Karl Paryla, for example, saw it as part of his "methodology" to drive "his" actors close to a "nervous breakdown", because then they would perform better. Fritz Kortner (whom Kinski mentions in his autobiography) was also famous for being very harsh and brutal during rehearsals.

Off-screen, Kinski often appeared as a drunken, sex-crazed maniac, chronicling his exploits in an (largely fictitious) autobiography that rivals Wilt Chamberlain's in terms of sexuality. He alienated his family with claims of incest with his sister, and when he died, only his son Nikolai attended the burial (his ashes were sunk in the Pacific Ocean).

Due to his playing a lot of crazy, murderous villains in his films (for example, in the Edgar Wallace series), and his determined, often obsessive behavior, he often was referred to as a crazy genius. Herzog's retrospective on his work with Kinski was released in the United States as My Best Fiend.

He was married four times and had three children, two daughters (Nastassja Kinski and Pola Kinski, both being actresses) and a son (Nikolai Kinski). His brother Arme lives in Berlin, still bitter about the way Klaus portrayed him in his "autobiography".

Kinski's last film (which he also wrote and directed) was Kinski Paganini (1989) in which he played the legendary violinist Niccolo Paganini.

Kinski died of a heart attack in Lagunitas, California, United States.

Recently he was honoured by his city of birth, Sopot. However, this proved to be highly controversial.

External links

es:Klaus Kinski eo:Klaus KINSKI fr:Klaus Kinski lb:Klaus Kinski sv:Klaus Kinski


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