Helmut Berger, Actor Known for His Work With Visconti, Dies at 78

Helmut Berger, the handsome Austrian film star best known for starring in three feature films by Italian neorealism director Luchino Visconti and his lover of more than a decade, died Thursday at his home in Salzburg. he was 78 years old.

His death was announced by his agent, Helmut Werner, but no cause of death was given.

“Years ago, Helmut Berger said to me: ‘I have lived three lives,'” Werner said in a statement, and in four languages! No, Rian.”

In 1964, while Mr. Berger was studying Italian in Perugia, a friend introduced him to Mr. Visconti, who had been on location for a movie starring Claudia Cardinale.

“I was there and I was so enthralled,” he told the website. culture europe “I wanted to see how they shoot the movie.”

Soon after, they began to develop a relationship both personally and professionally.Mr Visconti Berger starred in “The Damned” (1969), a Krupps-inspired story about a German steel family in the early days of the Third Reich.

As Martin, grandson of the family patriarch, Mr. Berger imitates Marlene Dietrich in formal attire for his grandfather’s party, which ends with the news of the Reichstag fire. Martin then sexually abuses his young relative and rapes his mother (Ingrid Thulin).

Anne Guarino reviewed the film for the New York Daily News, saying Berger represented the “perverted perversion” of Nazism. The New York Times’ Vincent Canby wrote that Berger “had his best performance of the year.” He was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Most Promising Male Newcomer.

Berger said working with Visconti was like being on stage.

“I don’t do 10-minute or 5-minute takes, I shoot whole scenes. Sometimes it takes 20 minutes,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1970. I really like the overall atmosphere. God wants you to be free, not limited. ”

Mr. Berger appeared in two more feature films directed by Mr. Visconti. In “Ludwig” (1973), he played the mad 19th century Bavarian king, for which he won the David di Donatello, Italy’s equivalent. Oscar. In Conversation Piece (1974), in which Burt Lancaster played an art historian living quietly in Rome, her life is changed by several characters, including Berger’s pushy Marchesa and her lover Gigolo. To go.

Canby gave a radically different assessment of Berger’s work this time, calling him “a frivolous figure who can only function as an ideogram of decadence.”

By then, Mr. Berger and Mr. Visconti had been living together for some time.

“I have been loyal during the 12 years I have spent with Luchino Visconti.” he told Gala magazine in 2012.

“But were you dating model Marisa Berenson at the time?” asked the magazine’s interviewer.

“Of course I’m bisexual,” he said. “This is fine.”

Berger fell into a deep depression after Visconti’s death in 1976.

“At first I gulped down a lot and then the drugs came out,” he told Gala. “The housekeeper wasn’t supposed to come until 5pm, but she happened to show up at 10am and help me out.”

Helmut Berger was born Helmut Steinberger on May 29, 1944 in Bad Ischl, Austria. His parents, Hedwig and Franz Steinberger, ran hotels.

Fleeing from a father who was cruel to him, Helmut moved first to England and then to Italy, where he made his film debut in The Witches (1967). This anthology film consists of five stories, each made by a different person. directed by. He played Hotel Page in a corner directed by Mr. Visconti.

After several other films, including ‘The Damned,’ Mr. Berger was cast in the film’s title role. Massimo DaramanoDorian Gray (1970) was a “modern allegory” based on Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray, set in sexy modern London. He was one of 500 actors who allegedly auditioned.

Berger “performs in a trance-like state and looks simply beautiful, if that’s the type you like,” Guarino wrote.

he continued to work mainly in Europe, until a few years ago. He especially won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in Vittorio De Sica’s The Garden of Finzi Continis (1970), where he played the sickly son of a wealthy Jewish family facing fascism in Italy. Played a playboy who seduces director Elizabeth Taylor. A character after undergoing plastic surgery in “Ash Wednesday” (1973).

He also played millionaire boyfriend Fallon Carrington (Pamela Sue Martin) in the 1983-1984 primetime drama Dynasty and Michael Corleone in The Series. Played the Vatican Treasurer who tries to deceive. The Godfather III” (1990).

Information about survivors was not immediately available.

Berger is known for his jet-flying lifestyle, being photographed by Andy Warhol, his relationships with women like Bianca Jagger, and being dubbed “the most beautiful man in the world” by German media. was known for

But when Gala interviewed him after the publication of the book Helmut Berger: Life in Photography, he said he no longer wanted the social hustle and bustle of his former life.

“I’ve been through it all,” he said. “I don’t think I’m Helmut Berger either. I’m not him. It’s a stage name. My name is Helmut Steinberger. And I will be until the day I die.”

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