Sunday, December 22, 2013

Remembering Heinz Bernard

Heinz Bernard Löwenstein was born on December 22, 1923 in Nuremberg, Bavaira, Germany.  Of Jewish origin, he also lived and worked in Israel from 1971 to 1981. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), graduating in 1951.
After graduation he worked in the Peter Allan Theatre, possibly the last group of travelling players to operate in the British Isles, performing every night in different towns and villages in the British countryside. He went on to become the manager of the famous leftist Unity Theatre in London. As manager of Unity Theatre he staged the first professional British production of a Brecht play, the Visions of Simone Marchard. Lionel Bart, who later gained fame as the author of the musical Oliver!, designed the poster.
Heinz Bernard also acted and directed in the travelling Century Theatre and taught at RADA, where he was director of admissions.
Heinz's name at birth was Heinz Messinger. He was adopted as a baby by a family called Löwenstein. After leaving RADA he worked under the professional name Harry Bernard, eventually dropping the Harry and becoming simply Heinz Bernard.
Following the death of his Israeli brother in the late 1960s, Heinz decided to emigrate to Israel. He acted the part of the Rabbi in the West End production of Fiddler on the Roof to raise money for the move. In Israel he became a legend on account of his performances in English teaching television programs, "Neighbours" (written by his wife Nettie) and "Here We Are". Each of the series was broadcast twice a week on the single national TV channel for over fifteen years, making him a familiar face to most Israelis. He appeared in many Israeli films of the seventies, working with Shaike Ophir, Ephraim Kishon and Menachem Golan. Among these films were two Euro-westerns: “God’s Gun” playing Judge Barrett alongside Lee Van Cleef and Jack Palance and “Kid Vengeance” as George again alongside Lee Van Cleef. Both films were made in 1976.
After 10 years in Israel, Heinz returned to England where he had to restart his career. He continued to work until his death of a rare blood disease in 1994.
Today we remember Heinz Bernard on what would have been his 90th birthday.

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