Thursday 17th December 2020
On her 90th birthday in the hospital
Mueller-Stahl is moving “to the end of life”
Armin Mueller-Stahl has had an unparalleled career. Due to a “lack of talent” at a GDR drama school, he nevertheless becomes one of the most popular actors in Germany. Well, on his 90th birthday, the Hollywood star is in the hospital.
His eyes still glow magically, a clear, powerful blue. They are his optical trademark – a reliable mirror of his extraordinary acting skills. These eyes signal urgency as well as curiosity or rejection. You can look warm, mischievous, but also negative and icy. He is an all-rounder: musician, actor, author, painter. Today, December 17th, Armin Mueller-Stahl celebrates his 90th birthday.
Mueller-Stahl’s father was Alfred Müller, a bank clerk from Tilsit in East Prussia. In his memoir “Three times Germany and back”, the son describes how the rather simple Mr. Müller became a Mueller steel.
Before the war, the father had often visited an aunt who had married into the nobility. “Then the performance always said ‘Herr Müller, Freiherr von Goltz. Herr Müller, Herr von Redecki. Herr Müller, Graf So-and-So’. The whole Baltic and East Prussian nobility was gathered there. And then Herr Müller with five children without money . […] I can imagine that it gnawed at him. “This was the hour of birth of the double name. Müller with” ue “and Stahl after an earlier relationship.
Dismissed for “lack of talent”
The young Armin Mueller-Stahl wanted to become a musician. Violinist. His teacher, the famous Professor Hans Mahlke, offered free private lessons. However, Mahlke also said: “Now you have to decide what you want to become. Either you will become a bad violinist with a high school diploma or a good violinist without a high school diploma.”
He decided on the violin, studied at the city conservatory in Berlin, changed the subject, took acting lessons at the newly established drama school in the GDR, until he was put out of the door because of “lack of talent”. So began a world career.
Most popular actor in the GDR
Mueller-Stahl called on the legendary Helene Weigel, the wife of the poet Bertolt Brecht and director of the Berliner Ensemble in the Deutsches Theater. She hired him. The celebrated theater mime starred in numerous films from 1956, including with his friend Manfred Krug. For five years in a row he was voted “GDR’s most popular actor” and in 1975 GDR television artist of the year.
The star, who was awarded the “Labor Banner” order, also wrote ridiculous verses of those in power, for example Walter Ulbricht, at that time the most powerful man in the GDR. He had been forgiven for that. But when he signed an open letter in 1976 against the expatriation of songwriter Wolf Biermann, he was hardly offered any roles. He applied for an exit visa and went west in 1980. He was 50 years old then.
He is not afraid of confrontation
Mueller-Stahl quickly built a second career. After the successful work with the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder, in whose film “Lola” he took on the lead role, the actor clashed with the TV producer Horst Wendlandt. Mueller-Stahl later wrote: “Wendlandt wanted to make it clear to me that he was able to promote my artistic life or to do the opposite, and that it would be best if he took responsibility for my career. Somebody wanted the position of Taking over Politburo in my life and making decisions over myself like the old sacks in the GDR. I had no intention of having my life censored by a person like Wendlandt … “
Mueller-Stahl went to the USA and began a career in Hollywood at the age of 60 and without any knowledge of the English language. With roles in films such as “Music Box – The Whole Truth”, “Avalon”, “Night on Earth” or “Shine” he caused an artistic sensation. The actor now has both German and American citizenship and still has a residence in California.
Artist, not a series star
In Germany, the mime has turned down lucrative offers such as Prof. Brinkmann in the “Schwarzklinik” as well as the leading role in the crime series “Der Alte” because he is not a series star. Instead, he preferred to play the poet Thomas Mann in the three-part series “The Manns – A Century Novel”. He also turned down an offer from Hannelore Kohl, the wife of the then Federal Chancellor Helmut Kohl, to run for Federal President.
For this he presented himself on the occasion of his 70th birthday with an exhibition as a painter and ten years later with a tour as a singer who had just released his first CD (“There are days”). The lyrics come from him.
Mueller-Stahl has been married to the dermatologist Gabriele Scholz for the second time since 1973. “I’m one of the rare aliens who have a happy marriage,” he told NDR. The couple live mainly in Sierksdorf on the Baltic Sea. He is not proud of his lifetime achievement. “I can’t do that much with the word because it’s so ego-laden.” A longer career in music would have been nice, he explained to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”: “I imagine: I would have become as good as a conductor as as an actor. Because I notice how I hear how I record things.”
90th birthday in the hospital
Mueller-Stahl recently revealed his birthday to the “Super Illu”: “Also because on these days I become even more aware that I am moving closer to the end of life.” The actor and singer seems to be struggling with health problems. In 2017 he had to cancel concerts in Saxony-Anhalt, among other things, because, according to management, he was physically unable to do so.
Just one day before his 90th birthday it became public that Mueller-Stahl was in the hospital. “Yes, my husband is in the clinic. It is not yet clear when he will be discharged”, wife Gabriele Scholz told “Bild” about a confidante. The reason for the hospital stay is unknown.