Loners, Losers & Live Wires – Remembering Klaus Löwitsch (1936 – 2002)

Posted in Remember by - July 05, 2015
Loners, Losers & Live Wires – Remembering Klaus Löwitsch (1936 – 2002)

The name may not ring a bell but the face should be familiar, especially to fans of cult Seventies cinema. German actor Klaus Löwitsch was talented and intense, often playing villainous but with a dangerous charm. Always interesting to watch, he worked with some of cinema’s most respected directors including Peckinpah, Fassbender and Preminger, and created some forceful characters, often outshining the more well-known stars of his films.

Born on April 8th 1936, in Berlin, Löwitsch trained as a dancer before making his movie debut in 1956. He spent the next few years in minor roles in forgettable features such as ‘The Black Cobra’ (’63) and ‘Girls, Girls’ (’67), as well as a number of German television movies. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that Löwitsch’s career took off, beginning with Roger Fritz’s controversial thriller ‘The Brutes’ (’70). A wonderfully photographed exploiter, the simple plot had Klaus and Arthur Brauss terrorizing pretty party-girl Helga Anders. Not as graphic as its reputation, it’s a very good if sordid tale with Löwitsch deliciously nasty as a smiling sociopath, and it features a terrific performance by the tragic Helga Anders. The following year and on more respectable turf, Klaus played a family interloper in Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s cult drama ‘The Merchant of Four Seasons’ (’71), an interesting though rather theatrical production.

Now known overseas, Löwitsch would garner small roles in a number of international features. He was a hit-man in the Jon Voight thriller ‘The Odessa File’ (’74), and a secret agent in the Otto Preminger flop ‘Rosebud’ (’75). Perhaps Löwitsch’s most recognizable role came in Sam Peckinpah’s excellent war picture ‘Cross of Iron’ (’77). He gave a great performance as the scruffy and battle-scarred Corporal Krüger, and more than held his own against the likes of James Coburn, Maximillian Schell and James Mason. Reuniting with Fassbinder Klaus appeared in two of the director’s best latter works. In the excellent sleeper ‘Despair’ (’78) he was a drifter murdered by Dirk Bogarde’s disturbed Russian immigrant, and in the superb post-WWII drama ‘The Marriage of Maria Braun’ (’79) he was Hanna Schygulla’s soldier husband who abandons her to return to the Russian front.

After reprising his role of Corporal Krüger for the star-laden ‘Breakthrough’ (’79), Klaus was once again playing the villain, this time in a couple of Cold War pictures. First was the terrific Disney film ‘Night Crossing’ (’81) with John Hurt, which had Klaus as a meddling policeman, and then Clint Eastwood’s ‘Firefox’ (’82) playing Soviet bad-guy General Vladimirov.

After giving a wonderfully sweaty performance as a ruthless cop in the gritty thriller ‘Kaminsky’ (’85), Löwitsch settled into German television where he became a household name in the late 80’s, most notably for playing the title role in the popular detective series ‘Peter Strohm’ (’89), which ran for five seasons until 1996. After more TV work and the 2001 thriller ‘Hostile Takeover’, Klaus’s final role was as a Serbian terrorist in the silly sports actioner ‘Extreme Ops’ (’02) with Rufus Sewell and Bridgette Wilson. Sadly, after a career spanning six decades and a 36 year marriage to his wife Helga, Löwitsch died from pancreatic cancer on December 3rd 2002, in Munich. He was 66 years old.

A hard-drinking actor with lived-in good looks, Klaus Löwitsch may have been lesser-known than his peers, including Helmut’s Greim and Berger, but he was an enigmatic and gifted man who left an indelible impression and brought bags of charisma to a host of unpredictable characters.

Favourite Movie: The Marriage of Maria Braun
Favourite Performance: Cross of Iron

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2 Comments on "Loners, Losers & Live Wires – Remembering Klaus Löwitsch (1936 – 2002)"

  • Karen

    I watched “World on a Wire” recently and was blown away by Klaus Löwitsch’s performance in it. What a fascinating actor– he was also a dancer and a singer. Quite an impressive entertainer.
    Thanks for providing some info about him in English! He deserves some more recognition.

    • admin

      Thank you. He certainly was a versatile man and always interesting to watch.

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