How old is the oldest actor

Undaunted lively : The oldest active actor in the world

Herbert Köfer was actually supposed to enter the stage at his performance in Frankfurt (Oder) in summer 2018 via a side staircase. But the then 97-year-old took the straight path and jumped straight up from his seat in the audience. “I don't make any detours, I always go for it,” he commented on this step - and thus also formulated a kind of motto for life.

In the east his audience loves him, in the west he is less known

If the actor, presenter and entertainer celebrates his 100th birthday this Wednesday, it will not happen from retirement. Still - and only artistically slowed down by the pandemic - Köfer is on stage or in front of the camera. And is therefore considered to be the oldest still active film and theater actor in the world.

The fact that his name almost only says something to East Germans is - to put it more pointedly - due to the lack of interest in the West. Like many GDR artists, Köfer kept his audience in the East, but hardly won any in the West.

Headlines for the current anniversary show how little the success of bygone times paved the way for East German actors and musicians to reunite Germany.

However, his career began more than 80 years ago. Born in Berlin on February 17, 1921, as the son of a married couple from Prenzlauer Berg, he began a commercial apprenticeship at the Orenstein & Koppel locomotive factory in Spandau. After just six months he dropped out of his apprenticeship to become an actor.

He is doing his training at the Deutsches Theater in Berlin. In 1940 he played one of his first stage roles in a provincial theater. Then the war brings him, Köfer is drafted, wounded and later taken prisoner.
After the end of the war he went back to Berlin and played in classics such as "Iphigenie", later at the Volksbühne and at the Deutsches Theater. He stays in the acting business and becomes a living legend.

Five times he received the title "TV Favorite"

On December 21, 1952, Köfer was the first speaker for the news program “Current Camera” - and he moderated the last broadcast on GDR television after the fall of the Wall. During the GDR era, he was five times the television favorite of the television newspaper "FF here".
Köfer played in Schwänken and comedies as well as in dramas, cabaret and television series, he moderated entertainment programs and appeared in radio plays such as "Neumann, twice ringing". This was broadcast weekly in an unbelievable 678 episodes on Radio DDR I from 1968 to 1981.

Köfer himself sees his roles as his greatest successes in the Defa films "Naked under wolves" (1963) with Erwin Geschonneck and directed by Frank Beyer and "Wolf under wolves", directed by Hans-Joachim Kasprzik in 1964. In "Nackt unter Wölfen" based on the novel by Bruno Apitz, who played in the Buchenwald concentration camp in 1945, Köfer played the role of an SS officer.

The four-part series "Wolf among wolves" based on the novel of the same name by Hans Fallada was the first Defa production to be shown in West Germany. In it, Köfer can be seen as Studmann's estate manager.

Köfer, who had been a member of the SED since 1964, became popular thanks to television roles such as the pensioner Paul Schmidt. He played him from 1977 in the series "Pensioners never have time", which almost everyone in the GDR knew. Or in the film “The man who came after grandma” and the “Stories about the garden fence”.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the really big film roles did not come, but Köfer was still in front of the camera. He has taken on small roles and guest roles on television several times, for example in "Der Landarzt", "Soko Leipzig" or "In aller Freunde".

There is “no secret” for his obvious zest for life, he said in an interview with “Super Illu” a year ago. “I live consciously, have a job that fulfills me, and an audience that, as I am repeatedly assured, still likes to see me on stage and on television.” In order to keep fit, “I cycle regularly on the exercise bike, do my dumbbell training and spend time in the fresh air "

He lives in Brandenburg with his wife Heike

The father of three children especially enjoys this in Brandenburg, where he lives with Heike, his third wife. Köfer, who was still posing with a wheelbarrow while building a house at the age of 92, is also versatile when it comes to his records: In addition to his entry as the oldest active actor in the world, the Guinness Book lists him as the “oldest, prominent, still active trotting driver”.

When he looks at old Defa films, he is sometimes stunned, "that I am often one of the few who is still present from the actors," says Köfer.

The programs on the occasion of his birthday show that this is him. Köfer advises to live “lively and courageously” - “after that it gets tight, and then you get angry, especially about the sins you haven't committed”. In his biography, which appeared on the occasion of his 99th birthday, he writes the sentence: "There are a hell of a lot of reasons not to die." With dpa / AFP

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page