Berlin, 4 December 1933.
Married French actress Miriam Bru, 1958; father of actor Christopher
Completed high school in Germany.
Began acting while still a high school student, playing bit parts on
stage and dubbing foreign films into German; gradually gained larger roles
on stage and earned favorable reputation in the German theatre;
1955—first film role in Julien Duvivier's
Marianne de Ma Jeunesse
Marianne of My Youth
); 1957—became major European star after lead role in film
The Confessions of Felix Krull
; 1958—American stage debut in short-lived Broadway production of
; U.S. film debut same year, as villain in director J. Lee
; 1960—first major Hollywood film role as Chico in John
The Magnificent Seven.
Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award, for
Sky without Stars
232 de Rue FMG Sud, St. Honore, Paris, France.
Regine (Braun); Marianne, meine Jugendliebe (Duvivier) (as Vincent Loringer); Himmel ohne Sterne ( Sky without Stars ) (Kautner)
Die Halbstarken ( The Hooligans ; Teenage Wolfpack ) (Tressler) (as Freddie)
Ein Stuck vom Himmel ( A Piece of Heaven ) (Jugert) (uncredited); Montpi (Kautner) (as Young Montpi); Endstation Liebe (Tressler) (as Mecky); Robinson soll nicht sterben ( The Girl and the Legend ; The Legend of Robinson Crusoe ) (von Baky) (as Tom); Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull ( The Confessions of Felix Krull ) (Hofman) (as Felix Krull); Herrscher ohne Krone ( King in Shadow ) (Braun) (as King Christian)
Nasser Asphalt ( Wet Asphalt ) (Wisbar); Auferstehung ( Resurrection ) (Hansen) (as Nechljudoff)
Tiger Bay (Thompson) (as Korchinsky); Das Totenschiff (Tressler) (as Philip)
The Magnificent Seven (Sturges) (as Chico)
Fanny (Logan) (as Marius); One, Two, Three (Wilder) (as Otto Ludwig Piffl)
Nine Hours to Rama (Robson)
La Noia ( The Empty Canvas ) (Damiani) (as Dino)
The Love Goddesses (Turell); Estambul ( That Man in Instanbul ) (Isasi-Isasmendi)
Cervantes ( Young Rebel ) (Sherman) (as Miguel de Cervantes)
Johnny Banco (Allepgret) (as Johnny Banco)
Como, Quando, Perchep ( How, When and with Whom ) (Pietrangeli) (as Alberto); L'Astragale ( Astragal ) (Casaril) (as Julien)
La Colomba Non Deve Volare ( Skyriders Attack ) (Garrone)
The Great Waltz (Stone) (as Johann Strauss, Jr.)
Aber Jonny! (Weidenmann)
Pittsville—Ein Safe voll Blut ( The Catamount Killing ) (Zanussi) (as Mark Kalvin)
Frauenstation ( Woman in Hospital ) (Thiele); The Savage Bees (Geller—for TV) (as Dr. Jorge Meuller)
Dead of Night (Curtis); Raid on Entebbe (Kershner—for TV) (as Wilfred Boese)
The Amazing Captain Nemo (March) (as King Tibor); Return to Fantasy Island ( Fantasy Island II ) (McCowan—for TV) (as Charles Fleming)
Da Dunkerque alla Vittoria ( From Hell to Victory ) (Lenzi) (as Jurgen Dietrich); Avalanche Express (Hellman and Robson) (as Scholten); The French Atlantic Affair (Heyes—for TV) (as Doctor Chabot)
Berlin Tunnel 21 (Michaels) (as Emerich Weber)
Aphrodite (Fuest) (as Harry Laird)
Sahara (McLaglen) (as Von Glessing)
Wenn Ich Mich Furchte ( Fear of Falling; When I'm Afraid ) (Rischert)
Code Name: Emerald (Sanger) (as Walter Hoffman)
Die Fraulein von Damals (Haugk—for TV); Crossings (Arthur—for TV) (as Martin Goertz)
I Skrzypce Przestaly Grac ( And the Violins Stopped Playing ) (Ramati) (as Dymitr)
Requiem por Granada (Escriva—for TV) (as Muley Hassan)
Touch and Die (Solinas) (as Limey)
Aces: Iron Eagle III (Glen) (Leichman)
In Weiter Ferne, So Nah! ( Faraway, So Close! ) (Wenders) (as Tony Baker)
Todliches Erbe (Rothermund—for TV) (as Wolfgang Olmer); Fantaghiro IV ( Cave of the Golden Rose IV ) (Bava—for TV) (as Darken)
Der Clan der Anna Voss (Ballman—for TV) (as Paul Voss)
Ptak Ohnivak (Vorlicek) (As King Jorgen); Der Kleine Unterscheid (Bohn—for TV) (as Wolfhart Perl); Geisterstunde—Fahrstuhl ins Jenseits (Matsutani and Niemann—for TV); La Vita e Bella ( Life Is Beautiful ) (Benigni) (as Dr. Lessing)
Voyage of Terror ( The Fourth Horseman ) (Trenchard-Smith —for TV) (as Captain); Dunckel (Kraume)
Minefield (Lane); Kinderraub in Rio-Eine Mutter Schlägt Zurück (Grünler—for TV) (as Dr. Lopez)
Heller als der Mond ( Brighter than the Moon ) (Widrich) (as Erster Gast); Der Feuervogel (Vorlicek)
"Advance Notice: Portrait," in Vogue (New York), 15 September 1959.
"Hollywood: Henry Bookholt," in Time (New York), 4 August 1961.
Miller, Ellen, "Pretty Brunette and a German Beat," in Seventeen (New York), November, 1961.
Broeske, Pat H., "Outtakes: A Man Called Horst," in The Los Angeles Times , 17 March 1991.
* * *
Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1933, Horst Buchholz came into the world the same time as did the Third Reich; he was lucky to escape the destruction that engulfed that regime in 1945. Like so many Germans, the Buchholzes were bombed out of their home, and they spent the closing months of the war in a series of evacuation camps. The family was separated by the war; although Horst and his mother returned to Berlin in the fall of 1945, the boy's father remained in an Allied POW camp until 1947.
To help support the family, young Horst found work in the reviving German theatre, mostly as a bit player or extra. A few years later, he was hired by a film company to assist with the dubbing of foreign films into German. Buchholz gradually earned more substantial roles in the theatre, which, in turn, led to acting jobs in motion pictures. He played supporting roles in three German films made in 1955, and his first major role came the next year, when he played a biker-gang leader named Freddy in Die Halbstarken ( The Half-Strongs , German slang for juvenile delinquents). It was this portrayal, along with a few similar roles, that gained Buchholz a following among German youth and earned him the nickname "The Teutonic James Dean."
More important parts began to come Buchholz's way as his acting ability and popularity with audiences became clear. He was named Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival for his role in Helmut Kautner's 1955 film Sky Without Stars. Buchholz's breakout role came in 1957, with The Confessions of Felix Krull (based on a popular novel by Thomas Mann). The film, and its young star, received international acclaim (although the English-dubbed version erroniously credited "Henry Bookholt" in the title role).
Although Felix Krull did play in the United States, it was mostly seen by art house patrons. Buchholz's first major exposure to American audiences came with his appearance in J. Lee Thompson's 1959 film Tiger Bay. Buchholz was cast as the villain in that film, but his next role gave him the opportunity to portray that most heroic of American heroes, the cowboy. John Sturges' western The Magnificent Seven (1960) featured such established stars as Yul Brynner and Eli Wallach, along with rising young American actors like Steve McQueen, James Coburn, and Charles Bronson. Buchholz was cast as Chico, a young Mexican who had become a gunfighter in rejection of his peasant heritage—a life to which he returns at the film's end.
Although Buchholz received favorable reviews for his cast-against-type performance, and had major roles in other American films of the period—such as Joshua Logan's Fanny (1961) and Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three (which cast Buchholz opposite James Cagney)—the young German never became a major star in the Hollywood firmament, possibly because he refused to focus on American films exclusively. Buchholz has remained a working actor, dividing his career between films and television, between the United States and Europe—a lifestyle made possible by his command of English, French, and Italian, in addition to his native German. Buchholz and his wife of forty-plus years, the French actress Miriam Bru, maintain homes in Switzerland, France, and Germany.
Although much of his later work involved him in relatively undistinguished films, Buchholz did play a supporting role in Roberto Begnini's Life Is Beautiful , which won several Oscars in 1999, including Best Picture. Buchholz has also lent his talents to numerous made-for-TV movies over the years in both the United States and Europe, and has also done occasional episodic television work in both markets.