Hannelore Elsner

Hannelore Elsner
Hannelore Elsner 001.jpg
Elsner in 2011
Hannelore Elstner

(1942-07-26)26 July 1942
Died21 April 2019(2019-04-21) (aged 76)
Munich, Germany
Years active1959–2019
  • Gerd Vespermann (1964–1966)
  • Alf Brustellin (1970s–1981)
  • Uwe B. Carstensen (1993–2000)

Hannelore Elsner (born Hannelore Elstner, 26 July 1942 – 21 April 2019) was a German actress with a long career in television and film. She first performed on stage in Munich, and later starred in popular films and television series such as Die Schwarzwaldklinik (The Black Forest Clinic), and as the lead character, Inspector Lea Sommer, in the series Die Kommissarin. She was recognized internationally for her lead role in the 2000 film Die Unberührbare (No Place to Go), shown at the Cannes Film Festival.


She was born Hannelore Elstner[1] in Burghausen on 26 July 1942.[2] Her five-year-old brother was killed in an air raid at the end of the Second World War. Her father died from tuberculosis when she was eight.[3]

After finishing drama school in Munich,[4] she was engaged at the Munich theatres Münchner Kammerspiele and Kleine Komödie am Max II [de].[2] She was the first to appear nude on stage at the Kammerspiele.[4]

Elsner appeared in her first film, Alt Heidelberg (Old Heidelberg), in 1959 at age 17.[5] She was discovered for more serious acting by Edgar Reitz, who cast her alongside Elke Sommer for a lead role in the 1973 film Die Reise nach Wien (Trip to Vienna), her first role outside Germany.[4] Later she starred in films and TV series such as Die Schwarzwaldklinik (The Black Forest Clinic). Elsner is remembered for the title role, Inspector Lea Sommer, in the German detective series Die Kommissarin which aired on public television in 66 episodes from 1994 to 2006. She was the first woman to play an inspector in a television series.[2]

Elsner achieved international recognition for her lead role in the 2000 film Die Unberührbare (No Place to Go), which recounts the last days in the life of a writer, based closely on the life of Gisela Elsner, who took her own life in 1992. The black-and-white film was written and filmed by Gisela Elsner's son, Oskar Roehler. It was a German entry for the Cannes Film Festival, and received three film awards.[2] Elsner's last completed film was Kirschblüten und Dämonen by Doris Dörrie; Dörrie said that Elsner was a great adventurer who threw herself into every role and her life with curiosity, dedication and bravery ("Für mich war Hannelore Elsner eine große Abenteuerin, die sich mit Neugier, Hingabe und Tapferkeit in jede Rolle und in ihr Leben gestürzt hat".)[6]

Elsner also participated in audio plays and read audio books. She worked in an association exhorting people not to forget the Holocaust. She wrote her memoirs in 2011, titled Im Überschwang: Aus meinem Leben (In Exuberance: From My Life),[4] which describe in detail how she grew up in Bavarian provincial surroundings and recount tragic episodes from her childhood.[2]


For her title role in Die Unberührbare (No Place to Go), Elsner was awarded the Deutscher Filmpreis (German Film Award) in the category Best Actress, the Deutscher Kritikerpreis (German Critics' Prize) and the 2000 Bayrischer Filmpreis (Bavarian Film Award).[6][7] In 2003, she won the Best Actress category for Mein letzter Film [de] (My Last Film), directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel, at the German Film Awards.[8] In 2005, she received the German Order of Merit for her campaign against AIDS.[2] In 2006, she was awarded the Bavarian Film Award for her life's work.[6]

Personal life

Elsner was married three times: to the actor Gerd Vespermann from 1964 to 1966, to the director Alf Brustellin from the 1970s until his death in 1981, and to Uwe B. Carstensen from 1993 until their divorce in 2000.[6] In 1981, she had a son with the director Dieter Wedel.[6]

She died of cancer in a clinic in Munich on 21 April 2019.[9][10] Hanns-Georg Rodek, in an obituary for Die Welt, described her as "a national institution ... wild, seductive and independent" ("eine nationale Institution ... wild, verführerisch und unabhängig").[4] The broadcaster BR changed their programming in her honour, to show films that she had appeared in as well as an interview.[9]


Films in which Elsner appeared include:[1]

  • Old Heidelberg (1959), as Helene
  • Das Mädchen mit den schmalen Hüften [de] (1961), as Yusha
  • Die endlose Nacht [de] (1963), as Sylvia Stössi
  • An Alibi for Death (1963), as Hanne Wasneck
  • Glorious Times at the Spessart Inn (1967), as Johanna
  • Zur Hölle mit den Paukern (1968), as Geneviève Ponelle
  • Student of the Bedroom (1970), as Brigitte
  • Gentlemen in White Vests (1970), as Susan
  • Willi Manages the Whole Thing (1971), as Constanze
  • The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of (1972), as Irina
  • … aber Jonny! [de] (1973), as Monika Winkler
  • Trip to Vienna (1973), as Marga Kroeber
  • Challenge to White Fang (1974), as Jane LeClerq
  • Berlinger [de] (1975), as Maria / Marlit
  • Grete Minde (1977), as Trude Minde
  • The Tailor from Ulm (1978), as Anna Berblinger
  • Der Sturz [de] (1979), as Alissa Kristlein
  • Der grüne Vogel [de] (1980), as Dr. Renate Winter
  • Mann ohne Gedächtnis (1984), as Dr. Essner
  • Eine Art von Zorn (1984, TV film), as Adele Sanger
  • Mary Ward [de] (1985), as Mary Ward
  • Parker (1985), as Jillian Schelm
  • Kaminsky (1985), as Nicole Kaminsky
  • Operation Dead End [de] (1985), as Dr. Hoppe
  • Bitte laßt die Blumen leben [de] (1986), as Yvonne Duhamel
  • Noch ein Wunsch (1989, TV film), as Brigitte
  • Der achte Tag (1990), as Mrs. De Vries
  • Der Tod kam als Freund (1991, TV film), as Judith
  • Das lange Gespräch mit dem Vogel [pl] (1992, TV film), as Polly
  • Klippen des Todes (1993, TV film), as Rita Freymuth
  • Die Kommissarin (1994-2006, TV series), as Lea Sommer
  • Schmetterlingsgefühle (1996, TV film), as Marie-Luise Wendt
  • A Girl Called Rosemary (1996, TV film), as Marga Hartog
  • Andrea und Marie [de] (1998, TV film), as Andrea
  • Kai Rabe gegen die Vatikankiller (1998), as Hilde Strassburger
  • No Place to Go (2000), as Hanna Flanders
  • Mein letzter Film [de] (2002), as Marie
  • Eine Liebe in Afrika [de] (2003, TV film), as Denise
  • Rot und Blau [de] (2003), as Barbara Bärenklau
  • Frau fährt, Mann schläft (2004), as Dr. Sue Süssmilch
  • Alles auf Zucker! (2004), as Marlene Zuckermann
  • Die Spielerin [de] (2005, TV film), as Polina Sieveking
  • Du hast gesagt, dass du mich liebst [de] (2006), as Johanna Perl
  • Rauchzeichen (2006), as Annabella Silberstein
  • Vivere (2007), as Gerlinde von Habermann
  • Das Sichtbare und das Unsichtbare (2007), as Maria Döbereiner
  • War and Peace (2008, TV miniseries), as Countess Rostova
  • Cherry Blossoms (2008), as Trudi Angermeier
  • Mein Herz in Chile [de] (2008, TV film), as Laura Hansen
  • Zeiten ändern dich (2010), as Mother
  • Der letzte Patriarch (2010, TV film), as Ruth Buchleitner
  • Lüg weiter, Liebling [de] (2010, TV film), as Martha Ebinghaus
  • Alles Liebe [de] (2010, TV film), as Irma Bergner
  • Das Blaue vom Himmel [de] (2011), as Marga Baumanis
  • Alles inklusive [de] (2014), as Ingrid
  • Tour de Force (2014), as Irene
  • Auf das Leben! [de] (To Life, 2014), as Ruth Weintraub
  • Kirschblüten und Dämonen (2019), as Trudi Angermeier


  1. ^ a b "Hannelore Elsner" (in German). Filmportal. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Trauer um Schauspielerin Hannelore Elsner mit 76 Jahren gestorben" (in German). Tagesschau. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  3. ^ "Hannelore Elsner - Sie wurde bereits früh mit dem Tod konfrontiert" (in German). T-Online. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  4. ^ a b c d e Rodek, Hans-Georg (23 April 2019). "Hannelore Elsner † / Sie wollte das Schwere und das Leichte spüren". Die Welt (in German). Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  5. ^ German actor Hannelore Elsner dies aged 76 dated 23.04.2019 at Deutsche Welle online, retrieved 12 May 2019
  6. ^ a b c d e "Film- und Fernsehstar : Schauspielerin Hannelore Elsner gestorben". FAZ (in German). 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Bayerischer Filmpreis – "Pierrot"" (PDF) (in German). Bayerischer Filmpreis. 2000. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  8. ^ "Lenin comedy wins German awards". BBC. 8 June 2003. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  9. ^ a b Stache, Soeren (23 April 2019). "Bereits am Ostersonntag / Im Alter von 76 Jahren: Schauspielerin Hannelore Elsner ist tot – BR ändert sein Programm". Tageszeitung (in German). Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  10. ^ "Hannelore Elsner ist tot" (in German). stol.it. 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.

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