Bruno Ganz
Bruno Ganz in July 2018

Known for

Playing Adolf Hitler


March 22, 1941


Gano Brunz


1.68m (5' 6")


15/16 February 2019 (Aged 77)

Bruno Ganz (22 March 1941 – 15/16 February 2019[1]) was a Swiss actor, known for his roles as Damiel in Wings of Desire and Adolf Hitler in Downfall (Der Untergang). Bruno Ganz was born in Zürich to a Swiss father (mechanic) and a northern Italian mother. He had decided to pursue an acting career by the time he entered university. He was equally drawn to stage and screen but initially enjoyed greater success in the theater.


In 1960, Ganz landed his first film role, in Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone (The Gentleman in the Black Derby). Despite the support of lead actor Gustav Knuth, his cinematic debut was not particularly successful and it was only many years later that his career in film got off the ground.

Ganz made his film breakthrough in a major part in the 1976 film Sommergäste, launching a widely recognized film career in both Europe and the U.S. Ganz played a professor opposite Sir Laurence Olivier in the thriller The Boys from Brazil (1978), about Nazi fugitives.

Ganz is probably best known for his role in Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, as the angel Damiel. He co-starred with Dennis Hopper in Wenders' The American Friend, an adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's novel Ripley's Game.

He went on to portray Adolf Hitler in Der Untergang (The Downfall) (2004). Ganz did four months of research on Hitler in preparation for the role, going so far as to listening to a ten minute recording of Hitler in private conversation with Finnish Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, in order to properly mimic Hitler's conversational voice, and distinct Austrian dialect[1]. In that film's most famous scene, Ganz dismisses all from his briefing room except Dieter Mann, Christian Redl, Rolf Kanies and Justus von Dohnányi.

Ganz recently appeared in The Reader and Der Baader Meinhof Komplex, which were both nominated for the 81st Academy Awards (best picture and best foreign language film).

Declining Health & Death

In July 2018, Ganz cancelled his participation in the Salzburg Festival. German-speaking press reported on his declining health until it was announced that Ganz was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. He passed away in the night of the 15/16 February 2019 at his home in Zürich, according to his manager.


  • 1973 "Actor of the Year" in German magazine Theater heute (Theatre Today)
  • 1976 German Film Awards
  • 1979 Deutscher Darstellerpreis (Chaplin-Shoe)
  • 1991 Hans-Reinhart-Ring, given by The Swiss Society for Theatre Culture
  • 1996 Iffland-Ring
  • 2000 Swiss Film Awards
  • 2000 Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
  • 2000 David di Donatello
  • 2001 Berliner Filmpreis (Berlin Film Awards)
  • 2004 Bavarian Film Awards, Best Actor
  • 2006 Verdienstorden der Bundesrepublik DeutschlandFilmography


  • Der Herr mit der schwarzen Melone (The Man in the Black Derby), 1960
  • Chikita, 1961
  • Sommergäste (Summer Guests), 1976
  • Lumière, 1976
  • Die Marquise von O... (The Marquise of O...), 1976
  • Die Wildente (Wild Duck), 1976
  • Der Amerikanische Freund (The American Friend), 1977
  • Die linkshändige Frau (The Left-Handed Woman), 1977
  • The Boys from Brazil, 1978
  • Messer im Kopf (Knife in the Head), 1978
  • Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht (Nosferatu: the Vampyre), 1979
  • Retour à la bien-aimée (Return to the Beloved), 1979
  • 5% de risques, 1980
  • Der Erfinder (The Inventor), 1980
  • [La Dame aux camélias (The Lady of the Camellias), 1980
  • La provinciale (1981)
  • Hands Up!, 1981
  • Die Fälschung (Circle of Deceit), 1981
  • Krieg und Frieden (War and Peace), 1983
  • Dans la ville blanche (In the White City, directed by Alain Tanner), 1983
  • Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), 1987
  • Bankomatt (1989)
  • Strapless, 1989
  • Erfolg (Success), 1991
  • La Domenica specialmente (Especially on Sunday), 1991
  • The Last Days of Chez Nous, 1992
  • Brandnacht (Night on Fire), 1992
  • Prague, 1992
  • In weiter Ferne, so nah! (Faraway, So Close!), 1993
  • L'Absence (The Absence), 1994
  • Saint-Ex, 1997
  • Mia aioniotita kai mia mera] (Eternity and a Day) 1998
  • Pane e Tulipani (Bread and Tulips), 2000
  • Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: Faust, 2001 TV
  • Epsteins Nacht (Epstein's Night), 2002
  • Behind Me - Bruno Ganz, 2002
  • Luther, 2003
  • The Manchurian Candidate, 2004
  • Der Untergang (Downfall), 2004
  • Have No Fear: The Life of Pope John Paul II (2005)
  • Baruto no Gakuen (バルトの楽園; Ode an die Freude), 2006
  • Vitus, 2007
  • Youth Without Youth, 2007
  • The Reader, 2008
  • Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (The Baader Meinhof Complex), 2008
  • Dust of Time (Η Σκόνη του Χρόνου), 2009
  • Satte Farben vor Schwarz (Colours in the Dark), 2010
  • Das Ende ist mein Anfang (The End Is My Beginning), 2010
  • Unknown, 2011
  • The Counselor, 2013
  • Age of Uprising: The Legend of Michael Kohlhaas, 2013
  • Heid, 2015
  • The Party, 2017
  • In Zeiten des abnehmenden Lichts (In Times of Fading Light), 2017
  • The House That Jack Built, 2018
  • Ein verborgenes Leben (A Hidden Life), 2019


  • Ganz is younger than the entire real-life Goebbels children, who were born between 1932 and 1940. In addition, Ganz was four years old when the real Adolf Hitler died.



Hitler actor Bruno Ganz interview about Youtube Downfall Parodies

Hitler actor Bruno Ganz interview about Youtube Downfall Parodies

A parody interview with Ganz about the Hitler parodies.


  1. The date of death is disputed. BBC and NYT claim night of the 15th, SZ and Tagesanzeiger claim early hours of the 16th, Deutsche Welle claims overnight to the 16th, Agence France-Presse claims during the night from the 15th to 16th.
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