Sunday, April 11, 2021

Lex Barker biography [archived magazine article]


By Peter Raschner

#35 September – October 1979


This was Lex Barker

He was the most famous Old Shatterhand of all time. BRAVO tells his life:

He was 1.92 m tall, had bright green eyes, dark blond hair and a male face. He was the darling of millions of teenagers. And it is still today, even though he has been dead for six years. We are talking about Lex Barker, the most popular and best "Old-Shatterhand" actor ever. Wherever one of the old "Winnetou" movies is shown, the audience is thrilled. BRAVO tells you the life of Lex Barker again here.

Lex was born Alexander Crichlow Barker in New York on May 8, 1919. His father was a rich and respected banker. As a student, Lex attended a distinguished boarding school, where he soon distinguished himself as an excellent sportsman. Swimming, football, fencing, tennis and athletics - in these sports Lex was usually the best.

After school, he studied at the famous University of Princeton. There he also trained as an actor. After the end of The Second World War (Lex was injured in the head in Sicily and had a small silver plate in the skull ceiling since the operation) Lex went to Hollywood, determined to make a career as an actor.

However, Lex's first big role was not due to his acting, but to his athletic torso. Producer Sol Lesser was looking for a new Tarzan actor in 1948. He saw Lex with his torso bare in the movie "For the sake of my wife" and immediately engaged him. In about a dozen Tarzan movies, Lex swung from Liane to Liane and let his muscles play.

A decade later, Lex came to Europe. He was fed up with Tarzan. He was looking for new tasks. After small roles in France and Italy, he was in front of the camera for the first time in 1961 for the German film "The Invisible Claws of Dr. Mabuse". Lex played a secret agent.

 A photo from this film was noticed by the "Winnetou" producer Horst Wendlandt. He had already found the ideal "Winnetou" in Pierre Brice, now he was looking for an "Old Shatterhand". He found him in Lex. And Lex had found the role of his life at the age of 43.

Seven times Lex stood in front of the cameras as "Old Shatterhand". Pierre and Lex were not only good friends in the film. The two stars also got along magnificently privately. When the Karl May films were stopped in 1968, Lex waited in vain for new offers. Disappointed, he eventually returned to America.

Lex was married five times and had three children. On May 11, 1973, he collapsed on New York's Lexington Avenue: heart failure. Lex Barker was dead. But as "Old Shatterhand" he will live on for many years to come.


[submitted by Michael Ferguson]

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