Hildegard Knef: Chronology of her life 1990 – 2002

The author is not responsible for the correctness of the following information.



March 1990:

Reading of her own texts at Vienna ’s Theater in der Josefstadt.

Guest appearance in an episode of the TV series Ein Schloss am Wörthersee (shot in Austria ).

Summer 1990:

Concert at East Berlin ’s Friedrichstadtpalast.

December 25 + 26, 1990:

Reading of her own texts at Berlin ’s Hebbel Theater.


January 1991:

Concert at a gay party event in Krefeld ’s Königsburg club.

March 1991:

Guest star on the TV game show Alles nichts oder?!; afterwards, the German tabloids speculate whether Knef is having an alcohol problem.

April 1991:

Shooting in Berlin and environs for the TV series Haus am See.

August 15, 1991:

Guest of honour at the reopening of the Babelsberg film studios.

Autumn 1991:

In Hamburg , appearance as a model for her friend, couturier Jürgen Hartmann (alongside French chanson singer Angèle Durand).


May 5, 1992:

On the TV programme Beziehungskiste, Hildegard Knef and Paul von Schell talk frankly about their marriage.

May 10, 1992:

Berlin newspaper “B.Z.” claims that Knef has been a morphine addict for 19 years, since her cancer surgery in 1973.

June 1992:

In Berlin , shooting begins for the German-American TV series Berlin Break; the first episodes in autumn 1993 get poor ratings and the programme is axed to a midnight slot.

A planned film version of a script by Knef (working title: “Those Without Roots”) is shelved.

September 13, 1992:

12-part series Haus am See kicks off on German TV – a hit with critics and audiences.

October 6, 1992:

On the TV programme Gottschalk Late Night Knef announces that Bavaria studios have completed a script for the film version of Der geschenkte Gaul and that it is to be produced in late 1993 / early 1994 – the plan fails to materialise, though.

November 1992:

Her first single in 5 years is released, a new version of Für mich soll's rote Rosen regnen with Knef as front singer of rock band Extrabreit; the CD sells around 150,000 copies.


February 2, 1993:

On the TV show Ungelöste Geheimnisse Knef talks about her paranormal experiences; a re-enactment depicts the healing of her mysterious 1967 skin rash by spiritual healer Gordon Turner.

February 1993:

Shooting takes place in the Baltic Sea resort of Travemünde, for an episode of the TV detective series Peter Strohm.

March 1993:

The promotional video to Für mich soll`s roten Rosen regnen with Extrabreit is produced in Hamburg.

March 25, 1993:

At Dusseldorf ’s film museum, Knef receives the Helmut Käutner Award.

June 1993:

Shortly after the world première in Berlin of the ill-fated musical “Sag mir wo die Blumen sind” (“Where Have All The Flowers Gone”) on the life of Marlene Dietrich, an accompanying CD single with 3 Knef songs is released; it’s her first collaboration with composer Hans Hammerschmid – after a break of nearly 20 years (since the 1974 album Ich bin den weiten Weg gegangen).

July 1993:

Knef goes on detox to get rid of her morphine addiction; for 4 ½ months, she retreats to a house in Berlin-Kladow; in the months before, she subsisted on a so-called “astronaut’s diet”, a liquid called “Fresubin”.

September 18, 1993:

Concert appearance at the “Grand Hotel Krasnapolsky in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Late October 1993:

Knef is blackmailed anonymously and gets police protection for her Munich flat.


May 5, 1994:

On the TV programme Gottschalk Late Night, Knef announces that she has created a perfume to be distributed under her name, but her plan is not realised.

September 1994:

Shooting takes place in Potsdam and Berlin , for an episode of the TV series Die Stadtindianer.

November 1994:

Almost 40 years after its recording, Knef’s song from the filmThe Snows of Kilimanjaro, Cole Porter’s Alles war so leer/You Do Something To Me, sees its first release, on the CD Tonfilm-Schlager.

December 16, 1994:

Guest of honour at an AIDS benefit concert at Berlin ’s Volksbühne theatre where she appears together with her American friend David Richards, who has been suffering from this disease for 15 years.

December 1994:

Due to health problems, Knef and her husband move from Munich to Berlin; after staying with friends, the couple rents a suite at the Schweizerhof hotel (July 1995).


January 31, 1995:

For the TV documentary Der Wunderheiler, Knef is treated by the controversial Romanian-Israeli spiritual healer Valeriu Borgos; he manages to relieve her of chronic sinusitis and eye pains.

March 5, 1995:

Her last public appearance as a singer, at the concert hall of broadcasting corporation SFB in Berlin, accompanied by the RIAS big band, conducted by Jiggs Whigham; while several months later the concert is broadcast on radio, it never sees a commercial release.

Dubbing work for the German version of Disney’s animated picture Pocahontas; she also records a song, Lausche mit dem Herz, released as CD single.

August 19, 1995:

In Cologne , at the “Popkomm” fair, she performs a song with rock band Engel Wider Willen.

September 23, 1995:

In Hamburg, première of the feature-length documentary on her life and work, Für mich soll's rote Rosen regnen; the film gets mixed reviews but is nonetheless nominated for the prestigious Adolf Grimme TV Award; on October 4, the Berlin première is celebrated with Knef as guest of honour at Wintergarten cabaret; on October 19, she attends a screening in Leipzig where she performs a couple of her songs.

October 1, 1995:

The city of Berlin honours Hildegard Knef with a medal of achievement.

October 9, 1995:

Starring role in the TV feature Tödliches Erbe  – also starring Horst Buchholz – that was shot in Berlin , in 1994.

Autumn 1995:

Guest of honour at a retrospective of her film work in Zurich .

November 1995:

Accompanying the general release of the documentary Für mich soll's rote Rosen regnen, a soundtrack with new studio recordings by Knef goes on sale in a 7-CD box set (assembling 120 of her old hits).

December 28, 1995:

Her 70 birthday party at Schweizerhof hotel is overshadowed by a court decision ordering her to pay a Munich publisher DM 68,000 – apparently because she had sold the rights to a new book (working title: “The Guilt of the Guiltless”) twice.


January 4, 1996:

After a circulatory collapse, Hildegard Knef is hospitalised in Berlin; she is suffering from double-sided pneumonia, lies in coma for 4 days; doctors say her life has been in danger; a few days later, she manages to give interviews to “B.Z.” newspaper and to TV gossip show Brisant; she admits to having earned around 35 million marks in her career but has now accumulated a debt of DM 250,000 (Paul von Schell adds: “We are broke”); famous actor-colleague Günter Pfitzmann publicly demands from her husband “to get a job”; entertainer Harald Juhnke and singer Konstantin Wecker try unsuccessfully to stage a benefit concert for her; due to her health problems she has to cancel a role in the popular detective series “Tatort”.

January 1996:

While still in hospital, a reporter hands over the trophy of the “B.Z.” award for artistic life achievement.

A film project starring Knef alongside Johnny Depp has to be cancelled.

January 1996:

In an interview for Spiegel-TV – recorded in December 1995 – Knef says, she would prefer directing a film more than acting.

March 1996:

Knef moves from Schweizerhof hotel to an apartment in Berlin ’s Grunewald district, at Brahmsstraße 12.

May 16, 1996:

In Babelsberg near Potsdam , guest of honour at the opening of an exhibition celebrating the 50 birthday of film company DEFA.

Summer 1996:

Plans for an album with new song lyrics by Knef – in co-operaton with singer-songwriters Konstantin Wecker, Klaus Hoffmann and Herman van Veen – fail due to her health problems and to financial difficulties (a concert tour through Germany , the Netherlands and Belgium was included in the planning).

October 6, 1996:

Guest star on the Patrick-Lindner-Show on German TV channel ZDF.

October 26, 1996:

First recipient of the “Marlene Award” for stage entertainment at Munich ’s Deutsches Theater.

Early November, 1996:

At Munich ’s Kammerspiele, Knef performs once again with rock band Engel Wider Willen.

November 15, 1996:

In Berlin , Knef is hospitalised for acute bronchitis.

December 5, 1996:

She attends – together with the premier of the state of Brandenburg , Manfred Stolpe – the opening of an exhibition on her life and work, at Potsdam ’s film museum (“Hildegard Knef – A Life in Pictures”).

December 9, 1996:

Press presentation at Berlin ’s Schweizerhof hotel of her fashion designs (in collaboration with costume director Cordula Stummeyer), to be distributed under the name of “Knef Fashion”; “Bild” newspaper writes, “Knef wants to be a couturier – please, don’t!”


February 12, 1997:

In Berlin , Knef presents the prestigious Goldene Kamera award for life achievement to American actress Shirly MacLaine.

February 16, 1997:

At the opening of the Berlin restaurant of US chain Planet Hollywood, Knef gives her handprints.

April 26, 1997:

Knef performs 3 songs on the TV lottery show Die Goldene 1.

July 31, 1997:

In Leipzig , first public presentation of her fashion line, followed by a promotional tour.

September 1997:

Guest of honour at a gay and lesbian autumn festival in Berlin ’s “arc” restaurant.

October 3. 1997:

Knef has to spend 3 weeks in a Berlin hospital, due to intestinal problems; meanwhile, the company that was to produce her fashion line, Lotzmann Bekleidung of Leipzig , goes bankrupt (her designs eventually do get on sale, named just “Knef”).


May 1, 1998:

Knef and her husband move to an apartment in the Berlin borough of Zehlendorf, at Lindenthaler Allee 21.

Hildegard Knef contributes to a film (Leben mit Krebs) by Deutsche Krebshilfe, a cancer charity group.

Knef plays her last acting role, in the Austrian film Eine fast perfekte Hochzeit (shot in Vienna ).


February 4, 1999:

At Munich ’s Kaisersaal, she receives the Deutscher Videopreis (German Video Prize) award for life achievement.

November 1999:

17 Millimeter is released – her last album (and first studio album in 19 years); the CD is a collaboration with jazz musician Till Brönner (they planned a follow-up) and is awarded a prize as Germany ’s most successful jazz album of the year.

November 9, 1999:

Her last TV appearance as a singer, with Zum Schluss... (accompanied by Till Brönner on trumpet), on the chat show Herman & Tietjen.


Health problems force Hildegard Knef to cancel a role in the TV film production “Wie angelt man sich einen Müllmann?”

January 30, 2000:

In Berlin ’s Oxymoron restaurant, she is present for an auction of Knef photographies made by Lothar Winkler; the proceeds – DM 21,700 – go to an AIDS project.

February 4, 2000:

Hospitalised in Berlin for a critically acute bronchitis; doctors diagnose her general breathing problems as lung emphysema.

March 1, 2000:

At the seat of the Axel Springer publishing house in Hamburg , Knef personally receives her “Goldene Kamera” award for life achievement which was bestowed upon her on February 8 (while she was in hospital).

March 9, 2000:

In a TV transmitted ceremony in Hamburg , Hildegard Knef receives the Echo award for life achievement ( Germany ’s most important music award).

March 2000:

Guest of honour at the Frankfurt opera ball.

Summer 2000:

Shooting takes place on the cruise liner Queen Elizabeth II and in the US for a feature-length documentary on her life and work, A Woman and a Half; on the return flight to Europe the vital breathing apparatus is missing on the plane, seriously aggravating her lung emphysema.

December 2000:

The founding of a charitable trust to support research into lung emphysema – to be given Knef’s name – is postponed.


January 26, 2001:

At Berlin ’s Intercontinental hotel, German chancellor Gerhard Schröder belatedly congratulates Knef on her 75 birthday; he helps her to become a German citizen again.

February 11, 2001:

In the presence of Hildegard Knef, the documentary A Woman and a Half is premiered at the Berlin film festival – her last public appearance in person; the film was intended for cinemas but is later only aired on TV; an accompanying CD and a book are released posthumously.

February 28, 2001:

Her manager, Thomas Jost, announces that she is to revise 3 of her books for new editions (Der geschenkte Gaul, Das Urteil and So nicht); he also announces 2 new albums and a CD single “sung in English, for all her fans in Europe” – but those projects could not be realised.

May 2001:

Hildegard Knef suffers a critical collapse of her lungs with kidney and liver failure; for 3 weeks she is in a coma and she spends a total of 3 months in intensive care at Behring lung clinic in Berlin-Wannsee; a part of her lung is surgically removed forcing her to live with a permanent breathing apparatus; in July – while Knef is still in hospital – her husband Paul organises the removal to her last residence, an apartment in Kleinmachnow near Berlin, at Gradnauer Straße.

June 27, 2001:

Hildegard Knef officially regains her German citizenship.

July 2, 2001:

The last musical recording in her lifetime is released: Engel – a new version of a song by hard rock band Rammstein.

Summer 2001:

Founding of the “Hildegard Knef Initiative” for the advancement of research into lung emphysema under the auspices of Knef’s personal doctor, Professor Robert Loddenkemper.

November 15, 2001:

In Berlin , she is awarded the “Bambi” prize for life achievement; due to her illness, actor Günter Pfitzmann receives it for her, with singer Udo Jürgens performing a tribute song to Hildegard Knef.

November 2001:

Her friend David Richards dies of AIDS-related complications, at age 44 (in February 2002, yellow press magazine “Neue Post” claims that his death destroyed any remaining will to live for Knef).

December 23, 2001:

In an interview with “Bild am Sonntag” newspaper, she announces that for health reasons she “cannot carry on working anymore”.


January 17, 2002:

Her last public appearance on TV: an interview on the Johannes-B.-Kerner-Show in which she says, “I absolutely don’t feel like fighting anymore”.

January 31, 2002:

In the morning, Hildegard Knef is found unconscious and is rushed to the Behring lung clinic in Berlin-Wannsee.

February 1, 2002:

At around 2 o’clock a.m., Hildegard Knef dies of acute pneumonia.

German federal president Johannes Rau and chancellor Gerhard Schröder express their deep shock and offer their condolences to the widower; Schröder: “She always knew how to get to the heart of her audiences – not only in Germany”.

February 2, 2002:

A book of condolences is placed at Berlin 's city hall signed by 1,500 people within a couple of days.

February 7, 2002:

The official funeral service takes place at Berlin 's Kaiser Wilhelm memorial church; the eulogy is delivered by Klaus Wowereit, the Governing Mayor of the capital; the ceremony is accompanied by musical offerings by Kai Rautenberg and Till Brönner; in the afternoon, Knef is buried at the Waldfriedhof in Berlin-Zehlendorf (the plot is financed by the senate of Berlin ).

September 25, 2002:

The tombstone – designed by her widower Paul von Schell – is erected at her grave.