Lotte in Weimar © DEFA-Stiftung, Wolfgang Ebert
Martin Hellberg was born in Dresden on Janaury 31, 1905. Although he started working as a machinist, he dreamed of becoming an actor and took evening courses. Eventually he was hired by the Sächische Staatstheater Dresden, where he worked from 1924 until he was dismissed in 1933, because of his membership in the Communist Party. In 1933-34, he worked as a theater coordinator at the Dresden Comedy House; the following year, he worked as an actor at the Schiller Theater in Berlin; he also made guest appearances as both an actor and director. His debut as a film actor was in Die blonde Carmen (Blond Carmen, 1935, dir. Victor Janson), but he was expelled from the Reichsfilmkammer because of his political views in 1942 and made to join the army in 1943.
After the war, Hellberg worked as a director in Freiburg and later on at the Munich Kammerspiele before moving to eastern Germany in 1949. After directing plays at the Deutsche Theater in Berlin, he became the manager of the Dresden State Theater. As a director, his film debut was the post-WWII story Das verurteilte Dorf. Hellberg also directed many films that were based on literary classics.
As of the mid-1960s, Hellberg restricted his film work to acting. His portrayal of Goethe, the leading role in Egon Günther’s Lotte in Weimar (1975), is particularly memorable. One of his last roles was as the old professor in the Oscar-winning film Mephisto (dir. István Szabó, 1981). Martin Hellberg died on October 31, 1999 in Bad Berka, Germany.
|1953||World Peace Prize, for Das verurteilte Dorf|
|1952||Peace Award, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, for Das verurteilte Dorf|
|1977||Ein irrer Duft von frischem Heu (The Wonderful Smell of Fresh Hay)|
|1975||Lotte in Weimar|
|1970||Dornröschen (Sleeping Beauty)|
|1964||Viel Lärm um nichts (Much Ado About Nothing)|
|1962||Minna von Barnhelm, oder das Soldatenglück (Minna von Barnhelm, or the Soldier's Fortune)|
|1962||Die schwarze Galeere (The Black Galley)|
|1959||Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love)|
|1955||Der Richter von Zalamea (The Judge of Zalamea)|
|1953||Das kleine und das große Glück (Happiness Great and Small)|
|1952||Geheimakten Solvay (Solvay’s Secret File)|
|1952||Roman einer jungen Ehe (The Story of a Young Couple)|
|1951||Das verurteilte Dorf (The Condemned Village)|