Bruno Ganz, Who Played Hitler in ‘Downfall,’ Dies at 77

The Swiss actor also starred in Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire”

Last Updated: February 16, 2019 @ 8:40 AM

Bruno Ganz, the Swiss actor whose work ranged from playing an angel in Wim Wenders’ “Wings of Desire” to an on-the-edge-of-defeat Adolf Hitler in the much-memed “Downfall,” has died at age 77.

He died at his home in Zurich on Friday after a diagnosis of colon cancer, his agent told France 24.

In his long career, Ganz appeared in more than 80 films and TV movies, mostly in Europe. He starred as a hit man opposite Dennis Hopper in Wenders’ 1977 film noir “The American Friend,” and then reteamed with the director a decade later for “Wings of Desire,” playing an angel sent to earth to comfort dying humans, who begins to long for humanity for himself.

In Werner Herzog’s 1979 “Nosferatu the Vampyre,” Ganz played the human Jonathan Harker to Klaus Kinski’s otherworldly Dracula. And he starred as a Venice cafe worker who romances a housewife in Silvio Soldoni’s 2000 film “Bread and Tulips,” for which he won a Donatello Award for Best Actor.

But Ganz may be most famous for his portrayal of Hitler in Oliver Hirschbiegel’s Oscar-nominated 2004 drama “Downfall,” in which he alternated between fury and despair as the German fuhrer during his last days in a bunker.

Clips from his performance delivering an angry tirade became one of the most-viewed internet memes just as social media platforms were spreading worldwide.

Other notable credits include 1974’s “The Boys From Brazil,” Jonathan Demme’s 2004 remake of “The Manchurian Candidate” and Stephen Daldry’s 2008 Oscar winner “The Reader” with Kate Winslet and Barbet Schroeder’s 2017 drama “Amnesia.”

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