Hildegard Knef: Chronology of her life 1990 – 2002
The author is not responsible for the correctness of the following information.
• Reading of her own texts at
• Guest appearance in an episode of
the TV series Ein Schloss
am Wörthersee (shot in
December 25 + 26, 1990:
Reading of her own texts at
Concert at a gay party event in
Guest star on the TV game show Alles nichts oder?!; afterwards, the German tabloids speculate whether Knef is having an alcohol problem.
August 15, 1991:
Guest of honour at the reopening of the Babelsberg film studios.
May 5, 1992:
On the TV programme Beziehungskiste, Hildegard Knef and Paul von Schell talk frankly about their marriage.
May 10, 1992:
• 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
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.
Shooting takes place in the
The promotional video to Für mich soll`s roten Rosen regnen with Extrabreit is produced in Hamburg.
March 25, 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).
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
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.
Shooting takes place in
December 16, 1994:
Guest of honour at an AIDS benefit
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.
August 19, 1995:
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
October 9, 1995:
Starring role in the TV feature Tödliches Erbe – also starring Horst Buchholz – that was
Guest of honour at a retrospective
of her film work in
December 28, 1995:
Her 70 birthday party
at Schweizerhof hotel is overshadowed by a court decision ordering her to pay
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”.
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.
In an interview for Spiegel-TV – recorded in December 1995 – Knef says, she would prefer directing a film more than acting.
Knef moves from Schweizerhof hotel
to an apartment in
May 16, 1996:
In Babelsberg near
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
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
Early November, 1996:
November 15, 1996:
December 5, 1996:
She attends – together with the
premier of the state of
December 9, 1996:
Press presentation at
February 12, 1997:
February 16, 1997:
At the opening of the
April 26, 1997:
Knef performs 3 songs on the TV lottery show Die Goldene 1.
July 31, 1997:
Guest of honour at a gay and
lesbian autumn festival in
October 3. 1997:
Knef has to spend 3 weeks in a
May 1, 1998:
Knef and her husband move to an
apartment in the
• 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
February 4, 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
November 9, 1999:
• Health problems force Hildegard Knef to cancel a role in the TV film production “Wie angelt man sich einen Müllmann?”
January 30, 2000:
February 4, 2000:
March 1, 2000:
At the seat of the Axel Springer
publishing house in
March 9, 2000:
In a TV transmitted ceremony in
Guest of honour at the
Shooting takes place on the cruise
liner Queen Elizabeth II and in the
The founding of a charitable trust to support research into lung emphysema – to be given Knef’s name – is postponed.
January 26, 2001:
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.
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.
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:
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.