Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Who Are Those Guys? - William Berger

He was born Wilhelm Thomas Berger on October 20, 1928 in Innsbruck, Austria. Both of his parents were doctors and he had a sister named Rosemary. The family being well off, Wilhelm was given many of the finer things in life during the Hitler regime of the 1930s. The family was on vacation in Northern Italy when World War II broke out and they fled to the United States leaving everything behind resettling in New York City. His parents found work immediately and Wilhelm went on to attend Columbia University majoring in engineering. A good athlete he joined the track team and even made the finals for the 1948 Olympic team.

In 1950 he was drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War. During this time he married his girlfriend Marjorie and finished his three year term of military service.

After the service he worked for a time at IBM and took classes in writing film scripts and then took directorial classes and  became part of the New York theatre. He was asked to stand in for an actor at the Rhode Island Theatre Group in the play ‘Gigi’. He was a hit and everyone thought Berger was a professional actor from New York City who had come down to help with the play. Berger became overwhelmed with the entire scope of the theatre and when he returned to New York City he took up studies at the Actor’s Studio. He went on to appear in such plays as ‘Misalliance’ and ‘Look After Lulu’ both in 1955 and in 1959 appeared in ‘Silent Night, Lonely Night’. Known to his friends as Billy Berger he hit it big with a two year successful run of ‘Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ Now having a wife and two children, Carin [1952- ] and Debra [1957- ] he decided to give films a chance and moved the family to Hollywood. He was an unknown commodity in California and finding no work was soon having marital problems. He left the family and returned to New York City in 1964. There he continued working at the Actor’s Workshop where he met a girl named Carol Lobravico. Carol introduced Billy to her jet set friends and the world of drugs. During the theatre’s hiatus Bill and Carol travelled to Europe with stops in London, Munich and Rome. At Cinecittà he was offered a small part in the film “Von Ryan’s Express” Then the couple returned to New York and Hollywood to finish the film and then Berger returned to Italy by himself to pursue his film career. Carolyn would join him on and off until they finally married in the late 1960s. While Carolyn was in and out of his life he often had roommates share his apartment, one being musician Keith Richards of ‘The Rolling Stones’. As William Berger, he soon found himself a major star in a series of Spaghetti westerns, including “Face to Face” (1967), “Today We Kill Tomorrow, We Die” (1968), “If You Meet Sartana Pray for Your Death” (1968), “Sabata” (1969) and “Keoma (1975).

In August 1970, he and his wife Carolyn, were arrested by Neapolitan police on a charge of drug possession. It has been conjectured, that the 'half a gram of hashish' may have been planted in their villa in order to secure a conviction. Carolyn died in jail from acute peritonitis, which was largely attributed to negligence from the authorities and misdiagnosis by the consulting doctors who thought her condition was a minor ailment. Berger was not released from jail until March 1971. He then resumed his acting career after his release. His later fare included “Love Letters from a Portuguese Nun” (1977), “Super Fly T.N.T.” (1973), “Hercules” (1983), “Devil Fish” (1984), “The Brother from Space”, “Dial Help” (both 1988) and “The King's Whore” (1990). He would later marry actress Hanja Kochansky [1937-    ] and film editor Dorte Volz [1943- ], besides his daughter Carin and Debra who are now actresses he was the father of actors Katya Berger [1964- ] and Kasimir Berger [1974] and is the stepfather of Katya Berger [1966- ].

Berger continued to work in films and TV until his death from prostate cancer on October 2, 1993 in Los Angeles, California.

BERGER, William (aka Bill Berger) (Wilhelm Thomas Berger) [10/20/1928, Innsbruck, Austria - 10/2/1993, Los Angeles, California, U.S.A. (prostate cancer)] - stage, TV, voice actor, married to actress, Carolyn Lobravico [19??-1970] (1965-1970), singer Hanja Kochansky [1937-    ], film editor Dorte Volz [1943-    ] (197?-197?), father of author Carin Berger [1952-    ] actress Debra Berger [1957-      ], actors Kasimir Berger [1974-    ], Alex Berger [1975-    ], actress, author, stepdaughter actress Katya Berger [1966-    ].
A Bullet for the General – 1966 [English voice of Lou Castel]
Cisco - 1966 (Larry/El Cisco/Cisco)
Ringo’s Big Night – 1966 (Jack ‘Ringo’ Balman)
Face to Face - 1967 (Charlie Siringo)
The Man Who Cried for Revenge – 1968 (Sam Kellogg)
Sartana - 1968 (Lasky)
Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die – 1968 (Francis ‘Colt’ Moran)
No Room to Die – 1969 (Everett ‘Bible’ Murdock/Sartana)
Sabata – 1969 (Banjo)
Ballad of Death Valley - 1970 (Lee Calloway/Sartana)
Sporchi dollari – 1970 [film was never completed]
Bullet for a Stranger - 1971 (Duke)
The Judgment of God - 1972 (Padre Tony Lang/Lant/Lanthory)
On the Third Day Arrived the Crow – 1972 (‘The Crow’)
Fast-Hand is Still My Name - 1973 (Muchedo/Macedo)
Kung Fu Brothers in the Wild West – 1973 (Steve/Blonde Angel)
Son of Zorro – 1973 (Mathias Boyd)
When the Devil Grips a Colt – 1973 (Butch Brown)
Yankee Dudler - 1973 (Doc Holliday)
Keoma the Avenger - 1975 (William Shannon)
California - 1977 (Mr. Preston)
Tex and the Lord of the Deep – 1985 (Kit Carson)
Django Strikes Again – 1987 (old gunfighter)
Buck at the Edge of Heaven - 1991 (Grandfather Thomas)


  1. Robert Mahaney - Berger is one of my favorites!

  2. Lauri Lehtinen - I never knew he "voiced" Lou Castel in A Bullet for the General.

  3. Tim Walker - One of my favorites. He's in some of the best, not just spaghetti westerns but genre movies in general.

  4. Very interesting Tom, thank you.

  5. Berger had a very interesting lfe that should be released in a biography. Much of the detailed informaton came from my friedn Tom Prickette who was able to correspond via e-mail with Kasimir Berger and find out many unpublished details about his father.