The Most Famous

ACTORS from Germany

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This page contains a list of the greatest German Actors. The pantheon dataset contains 10,030 Actors, 211 of which were born in Germany. This makes Germany the birth place of the 7th most number of Actors behind France and South Korea.

Top 10

The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary German Actors of all time. This list of famous German Actors is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of German Actors.

Photo of Marlene Dietrich

1. Marlene Dietrich (1901 - 1992)

With an HPI of 83.87, Marlene Dietrich is the most famous German Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 148 different languages on wikipedia.

Marie Magdalene "Marlene" Dietrich (, German: [maʁˈleːnə ˈdiːtʁɪç] (listen); 27 December 1901 – 6 May 1992) was a German-born American actress and singer. Her career spanned from the 1910s to the 1980s.In 1920s Berlin, Dietrich performed on the stage and in silent films. Her performance as Lola-Lola in Josef von Sternberg's The Blue Angel (1930) brought her international acclaim and a contract with Paramount Pictures. Dietrich starred in many Hollywood films including, most iconically, the six vehicles directed by Sternberg —Morocco (1930) (her only Academy Award nomination), Dishonored (1931), Shanghai Express and Blonde Venus (both 1932), The Scarlet Empress (1934) and The Devil Is a Woman (1935)— plus Desire (1936) and Destry Rides Again (1939). She successfully traded on her glamorous persona and "exotic" looks, and became one of the highest-paid actresses of the era. Throughout World War II she was a high-profile entertainer in the United States. Although she delivered notable performances in several post-war films including Alfred Hitchcock's Stage Fright (1950), Billy Wilder's Witness for the Prosecution (1957), Orson Welles's Touch of Evil (1958) and Stanley Kramer's Judgment at Nuremberg (1961), Dietrich spent most of the 1950s to the 1970s touring the world as a marquee live-show performer. Dietrich was known for her humanitarian efforts during the war, housing German and French exiles, providing financial support and even advocating their American citizenship. For her work on improving morale on the front lines during the war, she received several honors from the United States, France, Belgium and Israel. In 1999 the American Film Institute named Dietrich the ninth greatest female screen legend of classic Hollywood cinema.

Photo of Bruce Willis

2. Bruce Willis (1955 - )

With an HPI of 80.13, Bruce Willis is the 2nd most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 101 different languages.

Walter Bruce Willis (born March 19, 1955) is an American actor, film producer, and singer. Born in Germany to a German mother and American father, Willis moved to the U.S. with his family when he was two years old. His career began on the off-Broadway stage in the 1970s. He achieved fame with a leading role on the comedy-drama series Moonlighting (1985–1989) and has since appeared in over 70 films, gaining widespread recognition as an action hero after his portrayal of John McClane in the Die Hard franchise (1988–2013) and other subsequent roles.Willis's other credits include Hudson Hawk (1991), Pulp Fiction (1994), 12 Monkeys (1995), Last Man Standing (1996), The Fifth Element (1997), Mercury Rising (1998), The Sixth Sense (1999), Hart's War (2002), Tears of the Sun (2003), Hostage (2005), Over the Hedge (2006), Surrogates (2009), Moonrise Kingdom (2012) and Motherless Brooklyn (2019). As a singer, Willis released his debut album The Return of Bruno in 1987, followed by two more albums in 1989 and 2001. He made his Broadway debut in the stage adaptation of Misery in 2015. Willis has received numerous accolades during his career, including a Golden Globe, two Primetime Emmy Awards, and two People's Choice Awards. He received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006.

Photo of Simone Signoret

3. Simone Signoret (1921 - 1985)

With an HPI of 75.78, Simone Signoret is the 3rd most famous German Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 56 different languages.

Simone Signoret (French: [simɔn siɲɔʁɛ]; born Simone Henriette Charlotte Kaminker; 25 March 1921 – 30 September 1985) was a German-born French actress. She has received various accolades, including an Academy Award, three BAFTA Awards, a César Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and the Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress, in addition to nominations for two Golden Globe Awards.

Photo of Curd Jürgens

4. Curd Jürgens (1915 - 1982)

With an HPI of 72.03, Curd Jürgens is the 4th most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.

Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens (13 December 1915 – 18 June 1982) was a German-Austrian stage and film actor. He was usually billed in English-speaking films as Curt Jurgens. He was well known for playing Ernst Udet in Des Teufels General. His English-language roles include James Bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Éric Carradine in And God Created Woman (1956), and Professor Immanuel Rath in The Blue Angel (1959).

Photo of Magda Schneider

5. Magda Schneider (1909 - 1996)

With an HPI of 71.77, Magda Schneider is the 5th most famous German Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 21 different languages.

Magdalena Schneider (17 May 1909 – 30 July 1996) was a German actress and singer. She was the mother of the actress Romy Schneider.

Photo of Jürgen Prochnow

6. Jürgen Prochnow (1941 - )

With an HPI of 71.51, Jürgen Prochnow is the 6th most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Jürgen Prochnow (German pronunciation: [ˈjʏʁɡn̩ ˈpʁɔxnoː] listen ; born 10 June 1941) is a German actor. His best-known roles internationally have been as the good-hearted and sympathetic U-boat captain in Das Boot (1981), Duke Leto Atreides in Dune (1984), the minor but important role of Kazakh dictator General Ivan Radek in Air Force One (1997), and the antagonist Maxwell Dent in Beverly Hills Cop II (1987).

Photo of Horst Tappert

7. Horst Tappert (1923 - 2008)

With an HPI of 70.75, Horst Tappert is the 7th most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 22 different languages.

Horst Tappert (26 May 1923 – 13 December 2008) was a German movie and television actor best known for the role of Inspector Stephan Derrick in the television drama Derrick.

Photo of Udo Kier

8. Udo Kier (1944 - )

With an HPI of 70.57, Udo Kier is the 8th most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 32 different languages.

Udo Kierspe (born 14 October 1944), known professionally as Udo Kier, is a German actor. Known primarily as a character actor, Kier has appeared in over 220 films in both leading and supporting roles throughout Europe, Canada and the Americas. He has collaborated with acclaimed filmmakers such as Lars von Trier, Gus van Sant, Werner Herzog, Walerian Borowczyk, Kleber Mendonça Filho, Dario Argento, Charles Matton, Guy Maddin, Alexander Payne, and Paul Morrissey.

Photo of Karlheinz Böhm

9. Karlheinz Böhm (1928 - 2014)

With an HPI of 70.41, Karlheinz Böhm is the 9th most famous German Actor.  His biography has been translated into 25 different languages.

Karlheinz Böhm (16 March 1928 – 29 May 2014) was an Austrian-German actor and philanthropist. He took part in 45 films and became well known in Austria and Germany for his role as Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria in the Sissi film trilogy and internationally for his role as Mark, the psychopathic protagonist of Peeping Tom, directed by Michael Powell. He was the founder of the trust Menschen für Menschen (“Humans for Humans”), which helps people in need in Ethiopia. He also received honorary Ethiopian citizenship in 2003. He is sometimes referred to as Carl Boehm or Karl Boehm.

Photo of Lale Andersen

10. Lale Andersen (1905 - 1972)

With an HPI of 70.35, Lale Andersen is the 10th most famous German Actor.  Her biography has been translated into 37 different languages.

Lale Andersen (23 March 1905 – 29 August 1972) was a German chanson singer-songwriter and actress born in Lehe (now part of Bremerhaven). She is best known for her interpretation of the song Lili Marleen in 1939, which by 1941 transcended the conflict to become World War II's biggest international hit. Popular with both the Axis and the Allies, Andersen's original recording spawned versions, by the end of the War, in most of the major languages of Europe, and by some of the most popular artists in their respective countries.

Pantheon has 211 people classified as actors born between 1821 and 2000. Of these 211, 137 (64.93%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living actors include Bruce Willis, Jürgen Prochnow, and Udo Kier. The most famous deceased actors include Marlene Dietrich, Simone Signoret, and Curd Jürgens. As of October 2020, 60 new actors have been added to Pantheon including Fritz Wepper, Sonja Ziemann, and Siegfried Rauch.

Living Actors

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Deceased Actors

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Newly Added Actors (2020)

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Which Actors were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Actors since 1700.