Rolf Knie

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Rolf Knie (born August 16, 1949 in Bern ) is a Swiss painter , artist and actor .

He is the son of the multiple Swiss tennis and ice pair skating champion Pierrette Dubois (1921–2013) as well as Fredy Knie senior and brother of Fredy Knie junior, the artistic director of Circus Knie , and cousin of Franco Knie , technical director of Circus Knie in Rapperswil . Rolf Knie was primarily a clown actor and actor until the 1990s, but later also worked as a painter. His most common motifs are scenes from the circus .


Iron Circus, sculpture in Les Corts (Barcelona) by Rolf Knie and Miquel Sarasate

He spent his childhood in the circus and toured Switzerland. He had his first clown appearance when he was five years old. At the age of six he met Karlheinz Böhm and was friends with him until his death. In 1956 he started school in Belp and lived with a host family. In 1962 he switched to secondary school in the Kaltbrunn boarding school . From 1966 to 1967 he attended the commercial school in Zurich and played in the junior team of FC Zurich . In 1967 he dropped out of business school and got out of the junior team. From autumn 1967 to 1977 he worked in the circus ring.

In 1973 he met Gaston Häni and began a clown career with him. In the same year he married Erica Brosi. In 1977 he formed a theater group with Gaston Häni and Pipo Sosman and appeared for the first time on television on the Teleboy program . In the same year he met the Swiss artist Hans Falk , who accompanied Circus Knie for five years. Also in 1977 the cabaret artist Emil Steinberger gave him lessons in perspective drawing. On October 9th of that year he became the father of Gregory Knie . In 1981 he acted in the first film "Hotel" by director Max Sieber . In 1982 he built his own house with a studio in Jona . That year he played in the film "Die Grafen" , also directed by Max Sieber. In 1984 he ended his circus career in order to devote himself to his stage program. In that year he divorced his wife. On April 14th, the stage play " We make fun " followed under the direction of Jiří Menzel and with well-known clown colleagues such as Gaston Häni and Pipo Sosman. In 1986, Rolf Knie made the humorous film “ Die Schokoladenschnüffler ” with Häni and Sosman (title in Germany: “The murderer with the tiger's claw”) and had an appearance with the two of them in the American film “ Adventures in Toy Land ”. In the same year the theater group Häni, Knie and Sosman disbanded.

In 1987 he played in the play Charley's Tante , which was staged by Eynar Grabowsky, had more than 450 appearances by 1989 and made his first acquaintance with Jean Tinguely in 1987 . In 1988 he took an acting break on Mallorca, where he was mainly active as an artist in a studio in Son Servera . In 1989 his book «Rolf Knie. Father, painter, clown, actor, sculptor » . In 1990 he met the photographer and artist Hannes Schmid and allowed himself to be portrayed by him. In 1991 Rolf Knie married for the second time. His wife Anabela Lorador-Rodriguez is a Portuguese artist.

From 1991 to 2001 Rolf Knie worked exclusively as a creative artist and experimented with new techniques such as acid pictures or painting on the fabric of the circus tents. He also carried out various commissions such as the design of the new Prix ​​Walo trophy or 30 animal costumes for the parade in Disney's Animal Kingdom . Since 2002 he has been producing “Salto Natale” with his son Gregory Knie . It is a modern circus with similarities to the Cirque du Soleil , which takes place in Kloten around Christmas time.

On March 12, 2020, the premiere of a circus musical staged by Rolf Knie was celebrated in Dübendorf , which tells the 100-year history of the traditional Swiss circus .


  • 1982: Rose d'Or - Award for the funniest contribution in the film "Hotel"
  • 1995: Media Prize - Swiss Artist of the Year
  • from 2015: Honorary presidency of the Swiss foundation Menschen für Menschen (Zurich), inspired by Karlheinz Böhm , whose board of trustees Knie had previously headed.
  • 45th Prix ​​Walo - Honorary «Prix Walo»

Filmography (selection)


  • Robert Naef: Rolf Knie. Father, painter, clown, actor, sculptor . Self-published by Rolf Knie, St. Gallenkappel 1989, ISBN 3-8596-5025-9 .
    • also published as: Rolf Knie: Circus. The base . Self-published by Rolf Knie, St. Gallenkappel 1989.
  • Irène Stumm, Kurt Schori: Rolf Knie: Halftime - Mi-temps . H. + F. Leupi, Reiden 1995, ISBN 3-9520885-0-1 .
  • Kurt Schori, Rolf Knie: Carousel - Rolf Knie . Fritz Kaiser Group, Vaduz 2001, ISBN 88-85118-47-X .
  • Thomas Renggli: Rolf Knie without make-up. Clown, painter, life artist , biography, self-published by Rolf Knie, Egg 2014, ISBN 978-3-033-04459-3 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Pierrette Knie-Dubois died on Mallorca. In: Tages-Anzeiger from April 3, 2013
  4. ^ Animal Kingdom Fun Facts , accessed March 18, 2009.
  5. Jnes Rampone-Wanger: Walk with… Rolf Knie. (PDF; 1.68 MB; p. 4) (No longer available online.) In: Die Südostschweiz am Sonntag. October 19, 2008, formerly in the original ; Retrieved May 3, 2017 .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice.@1@ 2Template: Toter Link /  
  6. Annual report 2014. People for People Switzerland Foundation, Stockerstrasse 10, CH 8002 Zurich, accessed on February 27, 2018 .