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Karlheinz Hackl: Actor, singer and director who played an SS doctor in 'Sophie's Choice' and wrote a book about having cancer


Karlheinz Hackl was an actor, singer and theatre director whose career encompassed the stage, television, film and cabaret. Outside his native Austria he is probably best known for playing an SS doctor in Alan J Pakula's film Sophie's Choice.

Hackl was born and raised in Vienna, and attended the Vienna University of Economics and Business, while also studying at the Viennese drama school Krauss. His acting career began in 1972 at a small Viennese theatre, the Theater der Courage. He went on, in the mid-1970s, to perform at the Viennese Volkstheater, then joined the Thalia-Theater in Hamburg before returning to Austria in 1978 and joining the Viennese Burgtheater's ensemble, where he soon became a favourite with audiences.

In 1988, Hackl made his debut as a theatredirector at the Volkstheater in Vienna. He also made frequent appearances in film and television series, and from 1996 taught at the Max Reinhardt Seminar school of drama in Vienna.

In 2003, Hackl was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumour, but recovered and returned to the stage in 2005, as well as appearing in different films and series. In 2009 he published a book about his cancer and the long process of recovery and he also recorded a CD with cover versions of songs by the Austrian singer Georg Danzer. In 2012, he was the recipient of the Austrian Nestroy award, an award that honours theatre professionals. In spring of 2013 last year he was giving a performance of Danzer's songs when he collapsed and was diagnosed with cancer again.


Karlheinz Hackl, actor, theatre director and singer: born Vienna 16 May 1949; married firstly Maria Köstlinger, secondly Brigitta Furgler; died Vienna 1 June 2014.