'Wings of Desire' Star Otto Sander Dies at 72

Otto Sander - H 2013
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The German actor, whose film roles included parts in "Das Boot" and "Tin Drum," was considered one of the greatest theater stars of his generation.

BERLIN – German actor Otto Sander, a star of theater and television who had supporting roles in such German film classics and The Tin Drum (1979), Das Boot (1981) and Wings of Desire (1987), died Thursday in Berlin. He was 72.

No cause of death was given, but it was known that Sander had been battling cancer for several years.

He appeared in some 130 films and TV series, creating unforgettable figures such as the angst-ridden angel in Wim WendersWings of Desire, later remade as City of Angels (1998), and the shell-shocked submarine captain in Wolfgang Petersen’s WWII film Das Boot.

Sander first made his name as a member of Berlin’s legendary Schaubühne Theater in the 1970s. He was twice awarded Germany’s theatrical actor of the year honor, in 1979 and again in 1999.

But Sander was as well-known for his gritty baritone voice as he was for his stage and screen roles, and was much in demand as a dubbing artist. For instance, he was the narrator for the German-language version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000).

German President Joachim Gauck paid tribute to Sander, saying the veteran actor had a wonderful ability to portray both human weakness and strength with equal intensity.

"We have lost one of our greatest artistic personalities and an unforgettable speaking voice," added Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit.