Liesel Christ

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Liesel Christ (Photo: Stugrapho)

Liesel Christ (born April 16, 1919 in Frankfurt am Main ; † August 15, 1996 there ) was a Frankfurt folk actress and founder and director of the Frankfurt Volkstheater .


Liesel Christ was the baby of a large family. She was born as the first daughter of foreman Ludwig Karl Christ and his wife Marie, but had twelve half-siblings. At the age of four she was a member of the children's ballet and a little later in a production of Puccini's Madame Butterfly on the stage of the Frankfurt Opera House (today Alte Oper ). Two years later she advanced to a child star of the Frankfurt theater scene with her first leading roles, for example in Peterchens Mondfahrt . Thanks to a special permit, she was able to begin her studies at the Frankfurt University of Music and Theater in September 1933 at the age of 14, making her the youngest student. Her classmates at that time also included Siegfried Lowitz and Agnes Fink . After graduating from drama school, she was engaged at various stages, first in Koblenz , then as an operetta soubrette at the Stadttheater Heilbronn and finally in the last year of the war in Görlitz in Lower Silesia, with a guest contract in Breslau .

After the end of the war , she returned to Frankfurt on foot with her daughter and mother. Eight months later she was back on stage. First she set up a cabaret program with colleagues , then she was hired by Wolf Schmidt for his troupe Die Zeitgenossen , with whom she toured for a year. In 1949 she appeared in the colorful supporting program of the former Ufa film star Lilian Harvey , who sang her old film hits on a tour through West Germany. With the Hessische Volksbühne she was finally back on the stages of the Rhine-Main area as an actress and was one of the founding members of the Landesbühne Rhein-Main in 1953 , with which she became a crowd favorite in what was then the Volksbildungsheim am Eschenheimer Tor. For six years she also played major character roles for the Landesbühne, for example in Heinrich von Kleist's Broken Jug or in Gerhart Hauptmann's Biberpelz.

Liesel Christ became known throughout Germany from 1959 onwards through her role as Mamma Hesselbach in Hesse's most famous TV series "Die Firma Hesselbach" and from episode 25 onwards "The Hesselbach Family" , which was invented by her cabaret partner Wolf Schmidt at the time. He also played the role of Babba . With her part, Christ created the prototype of the German housewife and mother. A total of 51 episodes of the series were created.

In addition, she continued to play theater, among others at the side of Hans-Joachim Kulenkampff . In addition, she was seen in numerous other television roles, such as in several crime episodes in Tatort and in A Case for Two as well as in 1976 in the successful HR three-part The Winter That Was a Summer (based on the novel of the same name by Sandra Paretti ) with Günter Strack and Christian Quadflieg in the leading roles or in 1984 in the historical four-parter Die Schöne Wilhelmine as Landgravine of Hessen-Darmstadt at the side of Rainer Hunold .

In 1971 she gave up her regular theater engagement in Bielefeld and fulfilled a long-standing "heartfelt wish", as she called it. She founded her own dialect theater in her hometown, the Frankfurter Volkstheater , which she directed until her death. Initially, the game was played in the Great Hall of the People's Education Center . On June 18, 1971, the curtain rose for the first time there for the oldest Frankfurt local posse by Carl Malß , The Old Citizen Captain . In the first year there were also performances in the open air in the courtyard of the Dominican monastery, where the theater performed regularly in summer for more than 40 years. Without a permanent house, the stage then moved through various town houses, finally got its first long-term quarters in the Haus der Jugend and, from 1975, finally in a historical location, in the Cantate Hall next to the Goethehaus. Regular guest performances at the castles Eppstein and Königstein were added.

Liesel Christ in "The Five Frankfurter" (Photo: Stugrapho)

The theater set itself the task of maintaining the tradition of folk plays in Frankfurt dialect and at the same time implementing them in a contemporary way. Until recently, numerous modern folk pieces were premiered in the Cantate Hall. Liesel Christ set standards with her claim to also do literary folk theater with pieces from world literature such as Goethe's Urfaust in Frankfurterisch. With countless successful productions by long-time in-house director Wolfgang Kaus and guest performances, including several to Israel , the small dialect stage has become a recognized institution. Hessischer Rundfunk recorded many of the productions for its television program. The repertoire of the Volkstheater ranged from the local comedy Die five Frankfurter by Carl Rössler to the musical Schwank à la Die wilde Auguste with music by Walter Kollo to Brecht's mother Courage and her children , Christ's most symbolic role. She made her last stage appearance in February 1995 as Gudula Rothschild in The Five Frankfurter .

In parallel to her theater work, Liesel Christ took on other television roles and again celebrated successes with a Hessian series: Between 1989 and 1993 she played the role of sexton Agnes Bebel in Mit Leib und Seele in 51 episodes for ZDF, alongside Günter Strack .

Liesel Christ was also actively involved in cultural and social issues in her hometown of Frankfurt. From 1981 until her death, for example, she spoke to business journalist Frank Lehmann every week for a contribution to the Frehliche Frankfort-Telefon , which was founded by the local poet HP Müller. The humorous telephone announcement service recorded around 800,000 callers from all over the world with anecdotes, historical and current affairs in dialect until it was discontinued in 1998. It also supported the reconstruction of the Alte Oper and the expansion of the forest stadium for the 1974 World Cup. As a board member of the “Friends Frankfurts ”she worked on setting up a museum for the dialect poet Friedrich Stoltze. She spoke the explanatory texts for large theater projects by the deaf and hearing people of the Lukas 14 association in the Archaeological Garden. In the Liebfrauengemeinde she organized the Christmas service with stories in Frankfurt dialect. She played in homes for the elderly, wrote for the senior newspaper, got involved with children with cancer and the Jewish community.

Liesel Christ married the opera singer Fritz Dahlem on June 4, 1942, with whom she had a daughter Gisela Dahlem-Christ. The couple divorced in 1944. In October 1945 Liesel Christ's second daughter Bärbel Christ-Hess was born. A little later she met the publicist and later publisher of the Frankfurter Rundschau, Karl Gerold , with whom she had a long-term relationship beyond the public. Her two daughters supported her mother in the theater from the very beginning, Gisela Dahlem-Christ took over the management, her sister Bärbel Christ-Hess the management of the technical operations.

Liesel Christ died in 1996 after a serious fall in her hometown of Frankfurt am Main. She is buried in the main cemetery there (Gewann J 296). The then Prime Minister of Hesse , Hans Eichel, paid tribute to Liesel Christ with the words: "She has significantly shaped the culture in Hesse". In her honor, part of the system ring at the Alte Oper in Frankfurt was renamed Liesel-Christ-Anlage .

After her death, the two daughters continued to run the Frankfurt Volkstheater together with Wolfgang Kaus in the spirit of their mother. Most recently, the theater and television director Sylvia Hoffman took over the artistic direction. In 2011 the stage celebrated its 40th anniversary and in May 2013 it closed for good. In 2013 the Christ daughters received the plaque of honor from the city of Frankfurt for their commitment .

Prizes and awards

Web links

Commons : Liesel Christ  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Dieter Bartetzko : “Frankfurt's actress. On the death of Liesel Christ ”, in: FAZ from August 16, 1996.
  2. Sabine Hock : “Liesel Christ Volksschauspielerin. A biography ", Frankfurt am Main 2004.
  3. The grave of Liesel Christ