Weird, grumpy and lovable: Karl Merkatz died


Weird, grumpy and lovable: Karl Merkatz died

Karl Merkatz before the beginning of the ORF premiere of the cinema film “Echte Wiener 2 – Die Deppat’n und die Gspritzt’n” (2010).

Herbert Pfarrhofer/APA/dpa

He played in “Jedermann”, but was also the weird “Mundl” – Karl Merkatz had many faces as an actor. The trained carpenter was not only popular in Austria.

Austrian actor Karl Merkatz died on Sunday at the age of 92. The family confirmed to the German Press Agency that he fell asleep peacefully at home in Straßwalchen in the state of Salzburg.

During his career, Merkatz has appeared in more than 250 film and television productions. Among other things, he became known for his role in the TV series Ein Echter Wiener geht nicht unter (1975-1979). As the loud-mouthed electrician Edmund Sackbauer (Mundl), he shaped a TV character that has not been forgotten in Austria. The film series Der Bockerer, about a butcher with rebellious traits during the Nazi era, was also popular. In his more than 150 stage roles, Merkatz played mainly Nestroy, Raimund and Shakespeare characters.

«King of Dramatic Arts»

Merkatz was a character actor of unique stature, praised Austria’s Secretary of State for Art and Culture, Andrea Mayer. With him we lose a true king of acting. Hardly any series character like Mundl has polarized the audience as much as Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig found on Sunday. In this role, Merkatz was something of an early angry citizen who, despite his grumpiness, had his heart in the right place.

At the request of his parents, Merkatz, who was born in Wiener Neustadt in 1930, learned a trade and completed an apprenticeship as a carpenter. But even as a child he was fascinated by acting – after the apprenticeship it was not the workshop that followed, but the stage. Merkatz took acting lessons in Vienna, among other places, and graduated from the Mozarteum in Salzburg with distinction.

Farewell to the theater 2009

Stage engagements followed, including in Nuremberg, Hamburg and Munich. He met his wife while performing in Heilbronn. In Vienna he played at the Theater in der Josefstadt and the Burgtheater, among others. He was also successful in operettas and musicals, for example as the frog in Johann Strauss’ Fledermaus and in the Theater an der Wien as the milkman Tewje in Anatevka. His interpretation of the Kafka story A Report for an Academy about a monkey that appropriates European average education is considered ingenious. At the Salzburg Festival he was seen on stage in Jedermann, among others. One of his favorite plays was Beckett’s Waiting for Godot.

In 2009, Merkatz announced his departure from the theater stage – his great wish to play King Lear had not come true. After he successfully brought his cabaret program Der Blunzenkönig to the stage from 2008, the play also came to local cinemas in 2015 with Merkatz in the leading role.

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