As the giggling trapper in the "Winnetou" films, Ralf Wolter became a movie star in the 1960s. His performances alongside Pierre Brice and Lex Barker are probably best remembered by many viewers to this day. He was also seen in many other productions such as "Tatort" or "Der Alte". Wolter died at the age of 95, as his wife told the German Press Agency on Friday.
The audience's favorite had long since retired from the public eye. His last appearance in a film was in 2012 in "Bis zum Horizont, dann links" with colleagues like Otto Sander, Herbert Feuerstein, Tilo Prückner and Anna Maria. He told the "Bild" newspaper in 2013: "At some point you reach a point where you say: It's really enough, I don't want any more."
Ideal cast for lovable clumsies
In 1962, Wolter's Karl May career began with "Der Schatz im Silbersee". Six times he played Sam Hawkens, whose most famous line was "...if I'm not mistaken". However, many viewers also associate Wolter with a second Karl May character: that of Haji Halef Omar Ben Haji Abul Abbas Ibn Haji Dawuhd al Gossarah - a tongue twister that hardly anyone in the audience could imitate correctly. For a long time, Wolter was considered the ideal cast for lovable clumsies who provided a charming contrast to insipid heroes.
In the old interview, he also looked back with amusement on the shooting. His transformation into Sam Hawkens with the shaggy beard took hours each time. "That was actually what I got my money for," he said of the long procedure in the mask. Learning the text and having fun was nothing against it, although there were also tough days of shooting, he said.
The actor, who has lived in Munich for decades, was born in Berlin. His father was a circus artist, his mother a musician. After attending drama school, Wolter began as a cabaret artist. Theater stations were stages in Berlin, Potsdam and Munich.
What the actor soul dreams of
First cinema engagements followed, around 1961 with Horst Buchholz in Billy Wilder's post-war comedy "One, Two, Three". In the musical drama "Cabaret" with Liza Minnelli in the lead role, which won eight Oscars in 1973, Wolter was seen in a supporting role. In the animated film "Asterix in America" in 1994 he lent his voice to the Gaulish magician Miraculix with great recognition value.
Wolter took it easy that, despite his other roles, he was repeatedly associated with the old Karl May hams. "Every definition is annoying and everyone can imagine that reducing an actor's life to a single role is not what an actor's soul dreams of," he once told the dpa. "But I loved Sam Hawkens or he wouldn't have turned out like this." And the role also had another effect: "Strangely enough, this positive role fell back on me as Ralf Wolter. People said: He's a good guy."