|ACTOR, POET, COMEDIAN (LATVIA)|
BORN 20 Feb 1909, Riga - DIED 5 Jun 1979, Hamburg: Wellingsbüttel|
CAUSE OF DEATH heart attack
GRAVE LOCATION Hamburg: Ohlsdorfer Friedhof, Fühlsbüttler Strasse 756 (BI66 (605-606))
Hein Erhardt grew up in Riga, where he was born. After the First World War his father emigrated to Germany and from 1919 until 1924 Heinz lived in Hanover. From 1924 until 1926 he lived in Riga again. From 1926 until 1928 he studied music in Leipzig, but his wish to become a pianist wasn't supported by his family who wanted him to become a merchant.
From 1928 until 1938 he sold piano's and sheet music in Riga but at the same time he worked as a cabaret artist. In 1935 he married Gilda Zanetti, the daughter of a consul. He had met her in an elevator in 1934 and she was the love of hi life. They had four children. In 1938 Willi Schaeffers took him to the Kabarett der Komiker in Berlin. During the Second World War he was twice called for the navy but then refused because he wore glasses and he couldn't swim. The third time he was sent to Stralsund where the navy was in need of a pianist. His comical talent was recognised. Erhardt performed before the troops and he never had to take a gun in his hand.
After the war he was imprisoned for half a year. After his release he moved to Hamburg with his family in 1946. There he presented radio shows for the NWDR. During the fifties and sixties he became very popular by his many movies, where he often portrayed a friendly father or uncle talking a lot of nonsense, like in the "Willi" films. He was also known for his funny poems.
Erhardt was afraid of performing on the stage before a public. When he had to do this he often wore dark glasses that hid the public from his view and he took a stiff drink before he went onstage. This was usually a 'doppelter Doornkaat', which he called 'Dodo'. He tried to hide this habit from his wife.
On 11 Dec 1971 he suffered a stroke and afterwards he was able to read and understand people, but he couldn't talk or write anymore. He was forced to retire and he died in 1979, four days after he received the Große Verdienstkreuz der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. In 1983 his popularity boomed again, especially under young Germans loved his movies, records and books. In 2003 the Platz an der Weender Tor in Göttingen was renamed to Heinz-Erhardt-platz because it appeared in "Natürlich die Autofahrer" (1959).