Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Remembering Klaus Kinski

Nikolaus Gunther Nakszynski was born on October 18, 1926 in Zoppot, Free City of Danzig. His father was a pharmacist and was unable to make a living in Danzig so he moved the family to Berlin in 1931. In 1936 Kinski attended the Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium in Schoenberg. In 1943 he was drafted into the army but saw no action until 1944. He was either captured by the British or as he says deserted, was captured by the Germans, tried for desertion, sentenced to death but escaped and hid in the woods until he could surrender to a British patrol. He was wounded in the arm and was transferred to a British prisoner of war camp in Essex, England. While at the camp he appeared in several stage roles. Returning to Berlin in 1946 he found his father had died and his mother had been killed in an Allied air attack. He turned to acting and toured with a small theatre group from Offenburg as Klaus Kinski. His unconventional behavior resulted in his working with several theatre groups. Once he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three days and twice tried to commit suicide. Finding himself without a job he turned to being a monologist and recited prose and poetry which resulted in him becoming well known in Austria, Germany and Switzerland. His first film role was in "Morituri" (1948) and then several of the German Edgar Wallace films and small bits parts in American war films such as "Decision Before Dawn" (1951). In the 1960s he appeared in many exploitation films as well as small role in "Dr. Zhivago" (1965). He relocated to Italy and here appeared in 24 Euro-westerns. Kinski was a working actor who lived an extravagant lifestyle. He was only concerned about making money, living in luxury and sex. He accepted any role if the money was right, so for many of his roles he never read the script. Memorable western roles were in "A Few Dollars More" (1965), "A Buller for the General" (1966), "The Ruthless Four" and "The Great Silence" (both 1968), "And God Said to Cain" (1970), "Clint the Loner" (1972) and "The Genius" (1975). In the 1970s he formed an uneasy working relationship with director Werner Herzog and the duo made five films together which were the higlight of Kinski's career. Klaus wrote an autobiography  All I Need is Love (1988) which after its release was recalled and later re-released in 1996  as Kinski Uncut. Klaus died from an apparent heart attack on November 23, 1991 in Lagunitas, California. Married three times his two daughters Pola [1952- ] and Nastassia [1961- ] and son Nikolai [1976- ] all became actors. Today we remember one of the great actors of the Euro-western genre Klaus Kinski on what would have been his 85th birthday.


  1. Wonderful overview of a fascinating man.

  2. Klaus Kinski was known for being difficult to work with. For anybody who knew him, and I'm sure plenty of people knew him, he could be a handful.