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Fassbinder star Volker Spengler dies

The German actor Volker Spengler, who became famous with his leading role in the Fassbinder film “In a year with 13 moons”, is dead. He died yesterday at the age of 80 in Berlin, as the dpa news agency learned from his close circle of friends. Spengler would have turned 81 on February 16.

With the director Christoph Schlingensief, who died in 2010, Spengler was part of the ensemble in some works, including in films such as "The German Chainsaw Massacre", "100 Years of Adolf Hitler - The Last Hour in the Bunker" and "The 120 Days of Bottrop" as well as in theater performances at the Berliner Volksbühne like “Rosebud”.

The Bremen-born Spengler became famous for his role as transsexual Elvira Weishaupt in the film “In a year with 13 moons” by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (1945-1982). In the 1978 drama, in which Erwin had Elvira operated on and then died, Spengler was seen at the side of colleagues such as Ingrid Caven, Elisabeth Trissenaar and Eva Mattes.

Decades of stage career

Spengler also appeared in Fassbinder films such as “Satansbraten”, “The Longing of Veronika Voss”, “Chinese Roulette”, “The Third Generation”, “The Marriage of Maria Braun” and the TV miniseries “Berlin Alexanderplatz”. In the film adaptation of the novel "Der Unhold" by Volker Schlöndorff, he was cast alongside Gottfried John and John Malkovich as Nazi politician Hermann Göring.

In his decades-long stage career, Spengler worked with many well-known directors such as Peter Palitzsch, Frank Castorf and Rene Pollesch. In Heiner Müller's last production, the Brecht play “The Temporary Ascent of Arturo Ui”, the heavyweight Spengler stood next to Martin Wuttke on the stage of the Berliner Ensemble.

Studied acting in Vienna and Salzburg

Spengler is said to have gone to sea as a 14-year-old in the early 1950s and later completed an apprenticeship as a businessman before studying drama in Salzburg and at the Max Reinhardt Seminar in Vienna. His early career brought him together with celebrities like the comedian Heinz Erhardt and the director Fritz Kortner. In the mid-1970s he joined the Fassbinder clan with actors such as Margit Carstensen, Irm Hermann, Brigitte Mira and Kurt Raab.