Mario Adorf was born in Zurich on the 8th of September 1930. After graduating from school in the German town Mayen, he went to university and started working as an extra and production assistant at the Zurcher Schauspielhaus. In 1953, Adorf enrolled at the Otto-Falckenberg-Schule in Munich, and subsequently joined the ensemble of the Münchner Kammerspiele, where he worked from 1954-1960.
Adorf made his screen debut in 1954 as one of the German soldiers in Paul May's highly successful WWII-trilogy "O8/15". In 1957, he played a demented mass murderer in Robert Siodmak's "Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam" and was later awarded a Deutsche Filmpreis (German Film Award) for his performance. Mario Adorf was frequently cast as the brooding bad guy, for instance in "Das Totenschiff" and "Winnetou I". Since the mid-1960s, he also appeared in Italian productions, where he could sometimes alter his prevailing screen image by playing more comical parts.
Over the years, Adorf acted in numerous foreign-language films, including turns in "Major Dundee", "Fedora", "The Holocraft Covenant" and "Jours tranquilles à Clichy". From 1970 on, he was one of the most-sought after actors of the New German Cinema and participated in groundbreaking works such as "Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum" and "Die Blechtrommel" – which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film –, both directed by Volker Schöndorff.
Retaining his immense popularity, Adorf has been predominately working in television for the last twenty years, most notably in critically acclaimed miniseries such as "Der Schattenmann" and "Der große Bellheim".
Also after his 80th birthday, Adorf maintained his high-profile and industrious schedule as an actor. He starred as a marzipan manufacturer struggling to save his empire in the made-for-TV movie "Der letzte Patriach" (2010). He then delivered a memorable performance as a Czech war criminal who is confronted by the relatives of his victims after the end of WWII in Nikolaus Leytner's "Die lange Welle hinterm Kiel".
In 2012, Adorf returned to the big screen with "Die Libelle und das Nashorn": He plays an aging, narcissistic movie star, who spends an eventful night in a luxury hotel with an upcoming female author, whom he initially dislikes.