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Fritz Wepper Dies: ‘Cabaret’ Actor Was 82

Fritz Wepper, a German actor with a prolific TV career in his native country but known to American audiences for his funny and heartfelt performance as a German Jew is Bob Fosse’s Oscar-winning 1972 hit musical Cabaret, died Monday at a hospice facility in Munich. He was 82.

His death was announced by wife Susanne Kellermann to German newspaper Bild. Kellerman said Wepper passed away peacefully following a long illness.

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A familiar presence in Germany from his role as the crime-solving Detective Sergeant Harry Klein in the long-running series Derrick (1974-98), Wepper made a lasting impression on international audiences with his performance as the charming, if insecure, aspiring gigolo Fritz Wendel of Cabaret.

In the film starring Liza Minnelli, Michael York and Joel Grey, Wepper’s Fritz befriended Minnelli’s Sally Bowles and York’s Brian Roberts, while longing for the beautiful and wealthy Jewish heiress Natalia Landauer (Marisa Berenson). Secretly Jewish himself, Fritz is faced with the prospect of revealing his identity in a Berlin terrorized by Nazis or losing his true love. In one of the film’s more emotional scenes, Fritz and Natalia are married by a rabbi.

Cabaret would be Wepper’s only major Hollywood film, although heappeared in the 2001 CBS TV-movie Murder on the Orient Express starring Alfred Molina, Meredith Baxter, Leslie Caron and Peter Strauss. In Germany, his many TV credits include Der Kommissar, For Heaven’s Sake and High Society Murder.

In addition to his wife, Wepper is survived by daughters Sophie and Filippa.

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