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FRITZ MULIAR – LAUGHING IN THE THEATRE, LAUGHING AT THE CINEMA

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From Peter Turrini to Inspector Rex. A particularly intense life full of satisfaction, as well as dramatic events, that of the famous actor Fritz Muliar. And his audience, to this day, has never forgotten the nice man who for many and many years made them laugh, often also thanks to his knowledge of the Yiddish language.

A life for his beloved audience

Until one day before his death on May 4, 2009 in Vienna, the famous actor and cabaret artist Fritz Muliar performed for his audience. This took place at the Theater in der Josefstadt, in the play Die Wirtin, written by Peter Turrini and freely adapted from Carlo Goldoni’s La Locandiera. And even though he appeared in numerous films and television series (the most famous of which, which made him internationally known, is undoubtedly Inspector Rex, in which he took part from 1994 to 1998 in the role of the retired commissioner Max Koch, friend and mentor of the young commissioner Richard Moser, played by Tobias Moretti), it can definitely be said that the great love of his life was theatre, where he acted for more than seventy years, celebrating this important anniversary in 2006.

Friedrich Ludwig Stand was born on December 12, 1919 in Vienna, the illegitimate son of the imperial officer and Tyrolean editor Josef Weichselbaum (with whom, however, he never had any contact) and the bank secretary Leopoldine Johanna Stand. Only after the marriage of the latter to the Ukrainian jeweller of Jewish origin Moische Leib Muliar did young Fritz acquire the surname by which we all know him today.

After graduating from high school, the young Fritz Muliar already started to study acting at the Neues Wiener Konservatorium at the age of sixteen and soon afterwards began performing as a cabaret artist in small theatres in the city. World War II, however, changed things: Fritz had to enlist, but was soon even sentenced to death for attempting to sabotage the army. This verdict, however, was soon turned into a five-year prison sentence and he spent the entire period until the end of the war as a prisoner of the British.

Only from the mid-1940s did Fritz Muliar’s career really take a quantum leap. He began performing in numerous theatres in the country, in Klagenfurt, in Graz and finally in his native Vienna, first at the Raimundtheater, then at the Wiener Volkstheater, at the Burgtheater and, of course, at the Theater in der Josefstadt. Praised by audiences and critics alike (even the writer Ernst Lothar was particularly impressed by him), Fritz Muliar had the opportunity to perform in works by Johann Nestroy, Ludwig Anzengruber, William Shakespeare and even Berthold Brecht, to name but a few examples, each time proving to be particularly witty and amusing and soon becoming a familiar and reassuring face to his audience.

In the course of his long career, Fritz Muliar took part in more than a hundred films and television series, including Lumpazivagabundus (Franz Antel, 1956), based on the play of the same name by Johann Nestroy, Der Bockerer (Michael Kehlmann, 1963), the now cult Mother’s Day (Harald Sicheritz, 1993), Radetzkymarsch (Axel Corti and Gernot Roll, 1994) and Qualtingers Wien (Harald Sichertz, 1997), an all-Viennese comedy based entirely on sketches by the late Helmut Qualtinger, with whom Muliar had often had the opportunity to work.

Fritz Muliar’s life was particularly intense and full of satisfaction, as well as dramatic events. Married twice (his second wife was Franziska Kalmar, Austria’s first television announcer), he had three children and his eldest son Hans, born from his marriage to Gretl Doering, died in 1990. However, his grandson Markus (Hans’ son) gave us the opportunity in 2015 to learn more about some of the details of his grandfather’s life by publishing the book Damit wir uns verstehen!, which contains excerpts from Fritz Muliar’s own diary, along with some letters he wrote during World War II. His audience, even today, has never forgotten the nice man who made them laugh for many, many years, often also thanks to his knowledge of the Yiddish language. The Muliarplatz in Vienna’s 23rd district is just one evidence of how important the actor was to his country.

Info: the page of Fritz Muliar on iMDb