Peters, Werner


Werner Peters, a German stage and film actor, will be remembered best for his outstanding performance as the opportunistic, cowardly, and impertinent Diederich Hessling, in Wolfgang Staudte’s international film success, Der Untertan, based on Heinrich Mann’s novel of the same title. By the time of his death in 1971, Peters had appeared in over 100 films in 25 years.


Peters trained as a stage actor in Leipzig. Starting at 18, he acted on stage in Stralsund, Leipzig, Mainz, and Munich. Starting in 1947, he acted at the Deutsches Theater in East Berlin. He became known for his comical and satirical character roles and remained active in the theater until 1958.


Peters’ film debut was in Zwischen gestern und morgen, in which he performed together with Hildegard Knef. Peters mainly performed in East German film productions until 1955. He made several films with director Wolfgang Staudte (Rotation, Der Untertan, Die Geschichten vom kleinen Muck); their collaboration continued even after Peters decided to work in the West (Madeleine und der Legionär, 1958; Rosen für den Staatsanwalt, 1959).


In the following years Peters acted in many German and international productions, alongside internationally known actors like Paul Newman (The Secret War of Harry Frigg), Sean Connery (A Fine Madness) and Henry Fonda (Battle of the Bulge, 1965). Peters was well known for his performances in gangster and crime productions, including the Doctor Mabuse and Edgar Wallace films. He performed in the Oscar-nominated Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam, a crime film set during WWII, directed by Robert Siodmak. Peters also dubbed films for German audiences, lending his voice to Orsen Welles, Rod Steiger, Walter Slezak, and others; in 1958, he founded his own dubbing studio, Rondo-Film, in Berlin.


Festivals & Awards:

1951 National Prize Class III for Der Untertan


1971 Die Tote aus der Themse (The Dead One in the Thames River)
1968 The Secret War of Harry Frigg
1966 A Fine Madness
1965 The Battle of the Bulge
1963 Das Geheimnis der schwarzen Witwe (The Secret of the Black Widow)
1962 Die unsichtbaren Krallen des Dr. Mabuse (The Invisible Dr. Mabuse)
1961 Im Stahlnetz des Dr. Mabuse (The Return of Dr. Mabuse)
1961 Diesmal muß es Kaviar sein (Operation Caviar)
1960 Die 1000 Augen des Mr. Mabuse (The Thousand Eyes of Dr. Mabuse)
1959 Jons und Erdme (Jons and Erdme)
1959 Rosen für den Staatsanwalt (Roses for the Prosecutor)
1958 Escape from Sahara
1957 Nachts, wenn der Teufel kam (The Devil Came at Night)
1955 Hotel Adlon
1955 Es geschah am 20. Juli (July 20)
1954 Der Teufel vom Mühlenberg (The Devil From Mill Mountain)
1953 Das Stacheltier  Der König in Thule (The Porcupine: The King in Thule)
1953 Die Geschichte vom kleinen Muck (The Story of Little Mook)   
1953 Die Unbesiegbaren (The Invincibles)
1951 Der Untertan (The Kaiser's Lackey)
1949 Der Biberpelz (The Beaver Coat)
1949 Rotation
1947 Zwischen gestern und morgen (Between Yesterday and Tomorrow)

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