Remembering Wolfgang Völz (1930 – 2018)

German actor Wolfgang Völz died today aged 87. Here is a video obituary with clips of some of his most famous parts.

Wolfgang Völz was a German TV legend. If you watched TV in Germany at some point in the past sixty years, you have seen Wolfgang Völz and you have definitely heard his voice, because Völz was also a prolific voice actor, lending his distinctive voice to Walter Matthau, Peter Ustinov, Peter Falk, Mel Brooks, Majestix, the Gallic chieftain from the Asterix and Obelix films, as well as dozens of puppet and cartoon characters. It’s certainly fitting that Wolfgang Völz’s last credited role was the voice of God in the 2012 movie Der Gründer (The Founder).

However, the part which I will always associate with Wolfgang Völz is that of Lieutenant Mario de Monti, weapons officer aboard the fast cruiser Orion in the German science fiction series Raumpatrouille – Dia phantastischen Abenteuer des Raumschiffs Orion. In many ways, Mario de Monti was typical of the sort of characters Wolfgang Völz played – the joker, the good friend, the guy you’d want to have a beer with. His wife Roswitha Völz also appeared in Raumpatrouille Orion, by the way, as a dancer in the famous Starlight Casino dance sequences. With Wolfgang Völz’s death, almost the entire Orion cast is gone. The only surviving members of the cast are Thomas Reiner and Friedrich G. Beckhaus, who is the sole survivor of the actual Orion crew, since Thomas Reiner played an earth-based military official.

Raumpatrouille Orion wasn’t Wolfgang Völz’s only foray into the science fiction genre. For in 1979, he lent his voice to the android Otho for the German broadcast of the anime series Captain Future, based on Edmond Hamilton’s eponymous pulp novels of the 1940s. The constant bickering between Otho and the robot Grag, voiced by fellow Orion alumnus Friedrich G. Beckhaus, was a true delight and quite often overshadowed Captain Future, the nominal hero of the series. Both Raumpatrouille Orion and Captain Future (and therefore Wolfgang Völz) are what ignited my love for science fiction, together with the original Star Trek, Star Wars and Time Tunnel. And considering what a prolific voice actor Völz was, I wouldn’t be surprised if his voice turned up somewhere in Star Trek, Star Wars and Time Tunnel as well. Considering that Wolfgang Völz was the German dubbing voice of Mel Brooks, he was very definitely in Space Balls.

But even though I mainly associate Wolfgang Völz with his science fiction roles, he did so much more. Looking at his filmography shows that he was literally in everything. In the 1960s, he appeared in the popular crime series Stahlnetz (Steel net) and Graf Yoster gibt sich die Ehre (Count Yoster has the honour), where he played the butler of the crime-busting count. He had a small part in Fritz Lang’s 1960 thriller Die 1000 Augen des Dr. Mabuse (The 1000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse), which brought the great body-hopping supervillain Dr. Mabuse into the 1960s. Coincidentally, the Dr. Mabuse films definitely count at least as borderline science fiction, though 1000 Eyes is one of the more subdued ones. Like pretty much every German actor in the 1960s, Wolfgang Völz also appeared in the Edgar Wallace film adaptations, most notably as bumbling Sergeant Higgins in The Green Archer in 1961. Higgins was eventually promoted to inspector and was played by the more classically heroic looking Joachim Fuchsberger from that point on, but Wolfgang Völz lived long enough to portray Sir John, the head of Scotland Yard, in the 2004 Edgar Wallace parody Der Wixxer and its sequel Neues vom Wixxer.

Wolfgang Völz was also strongly associated with children’s television, particularly due to his voice acting work, and appeared in many SFF films and TV shows for kids. He played a pirate in the 1970 Astrid Lindgren adaptation Pipi in Taka-Tuka Land and an aristocratic major in the 2006 film Hui Buh – Das Schlossgespenst (Hui Buh – The Castle Ghost). He voiced the Blue Klabauter in the Pumuckl cartoons, the melancholic sea elephant in the cartoon adaptation of Max Kruse’s Urmel aus dem Eis (Urmel from the Ice) and Yetipletikreti in the cartoon adaptation of Michael Ende’s Jim Knopf and Lukas, the Train Engine Driver.

However, the part with which everybody who was a child in Germany in the 1990s and beyond will associate Wolfgang Völz is that of Käpt’n Blaubär (Captain Bluebear in English), the sailor’s yarn spinning retired sea captain who just happens to be a blue-furred bear. Käpt’n Blaubär was created by writer and cartoonist Walter Moers, but it was the voice of Wolfgang Völz that brought him to life.

I was already out of the children’s TV age by the time Käpt’n Blaubär premiered in Die Sendung mit der Maus (The Show with the Mouse). But considering how beloved the Käpt’n Blaubär character is, almost eclipsing the Mouse itself in fame, it is only fitting to end this post with the following tweet of the Die Sendung mit der Maus Twitter account.

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5 Responses to Remembering Wolfgang Völz (1930 – 2018)

  1. Lovely. Thanks for this awesome tribute. He was a big part of my media consumption, too.

    • Cora says:

      Looking at his IMDB page, I realised that I had forgotten half of the things he was in over the years, because Wolfgang Völz was literally in everything, either in person or via his voice.

      • I seem to remember hearing him on kid literature/ fairy tale LPs as well, although he wasn’t that one ubiquitous narrator guy. His voice was just so distinct so you recognised him right away.

        • Cora says:

          Come to think of it, you’re right and he was on some of those kids’ fairytale LPs, though the uniquitous narrator was somebody else.

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