Helmut Berger, the handsome Austrian film star best known for starring in three feature films by the Italian neorealist director Luchino Visconti, his lover of a dozen years, died Thursday at his home in Salzburg. He was 78 years old.
Her death was announced by her agent, Helmut Werner, who gave no cause.
“Many years ago,” Mr. Werner said in a statement, “Helmit Berger told me, ‘I have lived three lives. And in four languages! No regrets.'”
Mr. Berger was studying Italian in Perugia in 1964 when a friend introduced him to Mr. Visconti, who was about to direct a film starring Claudia Cardinale.
“I was looking there, I was fascinated,” he told the website Europe of Cultures In 1988 “I wanted to see how they shot a movie.”
They began a personal and professional relationship soon after. Mr. Visconti Cast Mr. Berger in “The Damned” (1969), the story of a German steel family influenced by the Krupps in the early years of the Third Reich.
As Martin, the grandson of the family patriarch, Mr. Berger impersonates Marlene Dietrich in full costume during a party for his grandfather, culminating in a word of fire in the Reichstag. Martin later molests younger relatives and abuses his mother (Ingrid Thulin).
Ann Guarino, reviewing the film for The Daily News of New York, said that Mr. Berger showed a “blatant perversion” of Nazism. Vincent Canby of the New York Times wrote That Mr. Berger “gives the performance of the year in my opinion.” He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Most Outstanding Male Newcomer.
Mr. Berger said that working with Mr. Visconti was like being on stage.
“You don’t do 10 minutes, five minutes but whole scenes, sometimes 20 minutes long,” he told the Los Angeles Times in 1970. “He uses three cameras so you never know which one is on you. You really get into it, the whole environment. He doesn’t limit you, he wants you to be free.
Mr. Berger appeared in two more feature films directed by Mr. Visconti: “Ludwig” (1973), in which he played the mad king of 19th-century Bavaria, for whom he played David de Donatello; Won the award, which is equivalent to the Italian award. Oscar; and “Conversation Piece” (1974), starring Burt Lancaster as an art historian living quietly in Rome whose life is changed by several people, including a pushy Marchesa and her gigolo. Also included is the lover, played by Mr. Berger.
Mr. Canby had a different idea. of Mr. Berger’s work this time, calling it “a lightweight” that “could serve as no more than an ideogram for decadence.”
By then, Mr. Berger and Mr. Visconti had been living together for some time.
“During the 12 years with Luchino Visconti, I was loyal,” she told Gala magazine in 2012.
“But were you dating model Marisa Berenson at the time?” asked the magazine interviewer.
“Of course, I’m bisexual,” she said. “It’s not a problem.”
Mr. Berger fell into a deep depression after Mr. Visconti’s death in 1976.
“First I drank a lot, glik glik, and then the pills came,” she told the gala. “My housekeeper wasn’t supposed to come till 5pm but dropped by 10am and saved me.”
Helmut Berger Helmut Steinberger was born on May 29, 1944 in Bad Ischl, Austria. His parents, Hedwig and Franz Steinberger, ran a hotel.
Fleeing his father, whom he said treated him brutally, Helmut moved first to England and then to Italy, where he began his film career with “The Witches” (1967). , which is an anthology film consisting of five stories, each containing a different story. Director. He played a hotel page under Mr. Visconti’s direction.
After a few other films, including “The Damned,” Mr. Berger was cast in the title role. Massimo Dalamano‘s “Dorian Gray” (1970), which billed itself as a “modern allegory” based on Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray” set in today’s sexy London. He was one of the 500 actors who auditioned.
Mr. Berger “gives a trance-like performance, only looking beautiful — if you like that kind,” Ms. Garino wrote.
He continued to work, mostly in Europe, until a few years ago. He notably played the sick son of a wealthy Jewish family facing fascism in Italy in Vittorio De Sica’s “The Garden of the Funzi-Continues” (1970), which won Best Foreign Language Film. Won an Oscar, and Playboy who seduced Elizabeth Taylor. Character after undergoing cosmetic surgery in “Ash Wednesday” (1973).
He portrayed the millionaire boyfriend of Fallon Carrington (Pamela Sue Martin), the millionaire boyfriend of the primetime soap “Dynasty” from 1983 to 1984, and the Vatican’s chief accountant, who tries to deceive Michael Corleone. , “In The. Godfather III” (1990).
Information about the survivors was not immediately available.
Mr Berger was known for his jet-setting lifestyle, portraiture by Andy Warhol, relationships with women such as Bianca Jagger and being called “the most handsome man in the world” in the German media.
But when Gala interviewed him after the book “Helmut Berger: A Life in Pictures” was published, he said he was no longer looking for the social upheaval of his early life.
“I’ve experienced everything,” he said. I don’t feel like Helmut Berger either. I’m not that. It is a stage name. My name is Helmut Steinberger. And I will be like this until I die.”