Bruno Ganz, ‘Wings of Desire’ Angel, Dies @ 77

Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, a legend in German-language film known as Damiel the angel in Wings of Desire and for his portrayal of Hitler in Downfall, died Friday following a battle with intestinal cancer. He was 77.

Ganz debuted onstage in 1961 and was viewed as a stage actor for 20 years in spite of an early, inconsequential film debut in The Man in the Black Derby (1960) and several other film appearances until the 1976 film Sommergäste. After that, his work in film intensified, with some of his best-known movies including such English-language works as American Friend (1977), The Boys from Brazil (1978), The Manchurian Candidate (2004) and The Reader (2008).

Ganz as Damiel (Image via Argos Films)

He was most recognized as Damiel in Wim Wenders's (b. 1945) Wings of Desire (1987) and Faraway, So Close! (1993), and achieved international acclaim playing Adolf Hitler (1889-1945) in Downfall (2004). He was also effective as Harker in Nosferatu the Vampire (1979) for director Werner Herzog (b. 1942) among dozens of other roles, and won the Italian Oscar for Bread and Tulips (2000).

Separated from his wife of over 50 years at the time of his death, Ganz is survived by her, their son Daniel and his partner Ruth Walz, a photographer.

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