Helmut Berger, Star of Acclaimed European Art Cinema in the 60s and 70s, Dead at 78

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Austrian actor Helmut Berger, the groundbreaking star of European cinematic masterpieces such as Luchino Visconti’s “The Damned” and Vittorio De Sica’s “Garden of the Finzi-Continis,… ’s “The Damned” and Vittorio De Sica’s “Garden of the Finzi-Continis,” has died at the age of 78. Berger died at home in Austria from natural causes.

In one of European cinema’s most storied and creative periods, the 60s and 70s, Berger boldly established his place in the pantheon of Continental stars via a handful of films directed by Visconti, his one-time romantic partner. “The Damned,” “Ludwig” and “Conversation Piece” were all crafted with standout roles for Berger and the films were hugely successful both at the arthouse box office and with critics and awards groups.

“The Damned” Berger was nominated for a Golden Globe for “The Damned,” which was also nominated for a Best Screenplay Oscar in 1970. No less an authority than the late German filmmaking maestro Rainer Werner Fassbinder called it “perhaps the greatest film, the film that I think means as much to the history of film as Shakespeare to the history of theater.

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