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Helmut Steinberger (Geburtsname)
Bad Ischl, Österreich


Helmut Berger was born as Helmut Steinberger on May 29, 1944, in Bad Ischl, Austria. He grew up in Salzburg and went to the Franciscan school in Feldkirch. After receiving his university-entrance diploma, he took on a number of different jobs. Among other things, he has worked as a model and an actor in commercials in both Paris and London. In 1965, he enrolled at the University of Perugia to learn the Italian language. Furthermore, he has worked as an extra at Rome's Cinecittà film studios.

Luchino Visconti gave him his first small acting role in the movie "Le Streghe" ("The Witches", 1966). Berger then took on his first leading role in "The Damned" ("La caduta degli dei", 1969), the first part of Visconti's "German trilogy", in which he played Martin, the sexually debauched son of a doomed industrialist family named von Essenbeck. While Berger continued to play excessive characters, his jet-set lifestyle, his alcohol and drug excesses, and his openly acknowledged bisexuality made him a favorite of the yellow press.

In Massimo Dallamano's adaption of Oscar Wilde's novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1970), Helmut Berger played the dandy who remains eternally young. Two years later, he caused a stir with his role in "Ludwig II." ("Ludwig: The Mad King of Bavaria"). In the last part of Visconti's German trilogy, Berger portrayed the eccentric Bavarian king whose unworldliness turned to madness. In addition to his work with Vittorio de Sica ("The Garden Of The Finzi Continis", 1970) and Joseph Losey ("The Romantic Englishwoman", 1975), Berger starred one last time in a movie directed by his life partner Visconti ("Conversation Piece", 1974). Visconti's death in 1976 plunged Berger into a deep personal crisis, culminating in a suicide attempt the following year.

At the end of the '70s and in the '80s, Berger took on many uninspiring roles in cheap movies. He has also worked in television, starring, for example, in Claude Chabrol's mini series "Fantomas". He took on a minor role in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather Part III", and in 1993 he reprised his role of the Bavarian king in "Ludwig 1881" (directed by Donatello and Fosco Dubini). In 1997, he starred in Christoph Schlingensief's movie "Die 120 Tage von Bottrop". Furthermore, he has been a frequent guest on TV shows. In 1998, Helmut Berger published his autobiography titled "Ich".

At the same time, Berger repeatedly caused headlines with his addiction problems. He was admitted to clinics several times, but he never stayed. During these years (between 1999 and 2004) he was not seen in cinema or television roles at all. In 2004 he moved from Rome to Salzburg to live with his mother, whom he looked after until her death in 2009. During this time he played supporting roles in Rainer Matsutani's thriller "Damals warst Du still" (2005, TV) and the British B-thriller "Justice/Vengeance" (2009) with Roy Scheider.  

Helmut Berger made a small comeback in Peter Kern's social drama "Blutsfreundschaft", which premiered in the Panorama of the Berlinale 2010; Berger played the leading role of a gay laundry owner who starts a relationship with a young neo-Nazi. With Kern he also made "Mörderschwestern" (AT 2011), about the so-called "Angel of Death of Lainz".

However, he received more attention as a resident of the "Jungle Camp" in the seventh season of the German reality show "I'm A Star - Get Me Out of Here! (2013). Due to health problems Berger already left the camp after three days. Nevertheless, he was positive about the experience afterwards.

Also in 2013 he took part in the music video of singer Nena for the song "Besser geht’s nicht" and played a supporting role as a lord in "Der Teufelsgeiger" ("The Devil’s Violinist") starring David Garrett. The French auteur Bertrand Bonello cast Berger in a small role in the award-winning biopic "Saint Laurent" (FR 2014), as fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent in his late years. The Austrian documentary "Helmut Berger, Actor" (Director: Andreas Horvath) premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2015. A scene in which Berger masturbates in front of the camera caused a sensation.

Shortly afterwards, Valesca Peters made the documentary film "Helmut Berger, meine Mutter und ich": It describes how Berger becomes the guest of a family mother in Lower Saxony from 2016 to 2018, who has set herself the goal of getting her former idol back on his feet - with success. While the film was still being shot, Berger made his stage debut in February 2018, at the age of 73: In the play "Liberté" by Catalan artist and filmmaker Albert Serra at the Volksbühne Berlin, he played an ailing baron of the Baroque era. In the spring of 2019, "Helmut Berger, meine Mutter und Ich" was released in cinemas.


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