Horst Bernhard Wilhelm Frank was born on May 28, 1929 in Lubeck, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany. The son of a porcelain painter. Horst Frank financed his acting studies by working part-time as a babysitter and night watchman. He actually failed his final exams at the Musikhochschule Hamburg, but nonetheless managed to secure an acting position in his home town. For some time after, his work was primarily confined to small parts on stage and in radio. His first screen role saw him as a cowardly pilot in “The Star of Africa” (1957). Frank then won a critic's award for his next role as member of a U-Boat crew in the war drama “Sharks and Little Fish” (1957).
Of athletic, lithe build and owner of a somewhat cold, hypnotic gaze (with a voice to match), Frank soon found himself typecast to disturbingly good effect as psychotic murderers in German and international productions “The Black Panther of Ratana” (1963), “Das Mädchen vom Moorhof” (1958), “The Copper” (1958). Alternatively, he proved an ideal henchman for spaghetti westerns “Bullets Don't Argue” (1964), “Johnny Hamlet” (1968) and “Django, Prepare a Coffin” (1968). Frank didn't seem to mind turning out copies of the same negative in a seemingly endless gallery of ruthless killers and impassive assassins. He did so with relish well into the 1980's and 1990's, enjoying guest spots on popular TV crime time shows like “Tatort” (1969) and “Derrick” (1974). If Horst Frank was in the cast, you knew pretty much from the start 'whodunnit'.
Behind the menacing heavy, there was a family man and author of poems and chansons. In addition to his screen acting, Frank lent his voice to dubbing work (for the likes of fellow tough guys Jack Palance, Ernest Borgnine and Chuck Connors); and to radio, where he voiced Captain Nemo in "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "The Mysterious Island".
Likely because of his lack of work in major American or British productions, Frank never quite achieved the international recognition he undoubtedly deserved. He died quite suddenly on May 25 1999 of a brain hemorrhage, just short of his 70th birthday.
Today be remember Horst Frank on what would have been his 85th birthday.
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