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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" (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".