Actor who played Hitler in Downfall dies

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall, has died aged 77.
Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who played Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall, has died aged 77.

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, who was known for his roles as Adolf Hitler in the film Downfall and the angel Damiel in Wings of Desire, has died at the age of 77 in Zurich, his manager says.

Ganz was considered one of the leading theatre and film artists in the German-speaking world.

He died from cancer on Saturday, his manager Patricia Baumbauer said in a statement, adding that his closest family was with him in his final hour.

The son of a Swiss factory worker and an Italian mother grew up in Zurich.

After getting a first taste of acting as a pupil, Ganz met the German theatre director Peter Stein and worked with him at the Berliner Schaubuehne, a stage that played a key role in the European theatre scene in the 1970s.

In the same decade, Ganz began working on screen projects that were based on works of literature, such as Eric Rohmer's film The Marquise of O.

In 1987, he played an angel in Wim Wender's Wings of Desire, which later received a Hollywood remake as City of Angels, with Nicolas Cage taking on Ganz's role.

Ganz won international fame for his role of the Nazi dictator in Oliver Hirschbiegel's Downfall in 2004.

The scene in which Hitler slowly erupts into a rage after his officers inform him of his defeat has been not only watched millions of times online, but has also been spoofed seemingly as many times, with users creating new subtitles for Ganz's unhinged performance.

Ganz was the bearer of the Iffland ring that is bestowed on the best German-speaking actor.

Australian Associated Press