• Germany's news in English

'Acting was more exciting than therapy'

The Local · 7 Mar 2013, 07:00

Published: 07 Mar 2013 07:00 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Pfaff died at his home in Hamburg on Tuesday aged 65, after a relapse of the lung cancer that forced him to break off shooting the latest series of much-loved series Der Dicke ("The Fat One") last autumn.

During a slow-burning but highly successful TV career, Pfaff rose to play a number of lead roles in major TV series, including a Franciscan monk in Bruder Esel ("Brother Donkey"), the eponymous police commissioner in Sperling, and the astute psychotherapist Dr. Maximilian Bloch in Bloch.

Latterly he had created yet another memorable character in Dr. Gregor Ehrenberg, the corpulent lawyer with a civic conscience, in Der Dicke.

Lutz Marmor, chairman of the state broadcaster ARD which aired many of Pfaff's dramas, honoured the actor on Wednesday as "authentic, tenacious, sensitive, with a unique presence."

Marmor said that he played Ehrenberg as a man "who gets involved where others look away, who lives out values like human sympathy and tolerance, even with all the slyness that marks a successful lawyer."

The theme of a character whose unique talent was empathy ran through Pfaff's work, and to some extent it carried over into his private life, when he became a special ambassador for the United Nations children's organization UNICEF.

Pfaff himself said that he once wanted to become a therapist, so that he could better understand human nature, only to turn to drama "because it was a more exciting and playful" way to explore the depths of the soul.

Born in Dortmund in 1947, Pfaff began his show business career as a lowly director's assistant in 1969. He later told the Hamburger Abendblatt, "An actor got sick in the production, and suddenly I was standing on the stage."

Story continues below…

Nevertheless, most of his theatrical career played out away from the footlights. After dropping out of his teaching studies, he began as a dramaturg, an author, and a director - it was not until much later that he discovered his acting passion, and after a grinding out a string of supporting roles, he was all of 50 years old when his breakthrough came.

Pfaff was also identified his weight as an important part of his sensibility, once telling Bunte magazine, "Being fat is something that keeps me grounded."

The Local/DPA/bk

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Obama to visit Berlin in last presidential trip to Germany
President Barack Obama and Chancellor Angela Merkel during a Berlin trip in 2013. Photo: DPA.

The White House announced on Tuesday that US President Barack Obama will be paying one last unexpected visit to the German capital - his last before he leaves office.

Hostility towards minorities 'widespread in Bavaria'
A village in southern Bavaria. Photo: DPA.

Hate and hostility towards groups deemed to be different are not just sentiments felt by fringe extremists, a new report on Bavaria shows.

Hated RB Leipzig emerge as shock challengers to Bayern
RB Leipzig. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig's remarkable unbeaten start to the Bundesliga season has seen them suddenly emerge at the head of the pack chasing reigning champions and league leaders Bayern Munich.

Munich taxi driver in hospital after attack by British tourists
Photo: DPA

A taxi driver had to be hospitalized in Munich on Monday evening after three British tourists refused to pay their fare and then attacked him.

German police carry out nationwide anti-terror raids
Police outside a building in Jena during raids on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Police forces in five German states carried out raids on Tuesday morning with the aim of tackling the financing of terror groups, police in Thuringia have reported.

The Local List
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Photo: DPA

So you've mastered German, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

Iconic German church being eroded away by human urine
Ulm Minster towering over the rest Ulm surrounding the Danube. Photo: Pixabay

It will now cost you €100 to spend a penny. That’s if you get caught choosing to pee against the world-famous Ulm Minster.

German small arms ammo exports grow ten-fold
Photo: DPA

The government has come in for criticism after new figures revealed that Germany exported ten times the quantity of small arms ammunition in the first half of 2016 as in the same period last year.

14-year-old stabs 'creepy clown' in prank gone wrong
File photo: DPA.

A 16-year-old in Berlin decided he wanted to scare some friends, but his plot backfired in a violent way.

Four Ku Klux Klan groups active in Germany, says govt
An American member of the KKK at a gathering in Georgia. Photo: EPA.

The German government estimates that there are four Ku Klux Klan (KKK) groups currently active in the country, according to a report by the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) on Tuesday.

Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd