(12 November 1923 – 22 August 2011)
He is most well known for his cartoons, the sketches from his 1976 television series Loriot, alongside Evelyn Hamann, and his two movies, Ödipussi (1988) and Pappa Ante Portas (1991).
On the television series Unsere Besten (Our Best), Loriot was ranked the 54th best German ever. In a special comedy episode of Unsere Besten, he was ranked as the most famous German comedian ever.
Vicco von Bülow was born in Brandenburg an der Havel in Prussia, today Brandenburg, in modern North-Eastern Germany. His family von Bülow
belonged to German aristocracy. His parents separated soon after he was
born, his mother died when he was six. Von Bülow and his brother grew
up in Berlin with their grandmother.
Von Bülow was still in school when World War II started. He completed the Notabitur, a shortened A-level, in 1941. In his family’s tradition he became a military officer and was deployed to the Eastern Front for three years, serving as First Lieutenant of Panzergrenadierregiment 3 in the 3rd Panzer Division.
Von Bülow’s talent for drawing was eminent already during his school
years. After the war he studied graphic design and painting at the Landeskunstschule in Hamburg. From 1950 onwards he published cartoons under the pseudonym “Loriot”, derived from the French word for Oriole, his family’s heraldic animal.
In 1971 von Bülow created a cartoon dog named Wum, which he voice acted
himself. Wum became the mascot of “Aktion Sorgenkind”, a German
humanitarian organization. During the Christmas season of 1972 Wum’s
song “Ich wünsch’ mir ‘ne kleine Miezekatze” (“I wish I had a little
kittycat”), sung in sprechgesang style, became popular enough to remain in the top position of the German pop charts for nine weeks. Wum also appeared in the German show Der große Preis (The Big Prize),
where he appeared during breaks until the 1990s. Before long, Wum was
accompanied by the elephant Wendelin, and later by Blauer Klaus (Blue
Klaus), an alien hovering in with his flying saucer. Loriot wrote, drew
and dubbed all of these skits by himself. Each cartoon ended with Loriot
asking the viewers to take part in the TV-lottery, which supported the
“Aktion Sorgenkind”. When the show was dropped, the adventures of Wum
and Wendelin ended as well. Today, Wum and Wendelin appear on the final
page of the TV magazine Gong.
The first episode of the German television comedy series Loriot
was produced in 1976. In six episodes, Loriot presented sketches,
usually being the protagonist himself, and short cartoons, drawn by
Loriot had a love of classical music and opera. In 1982 he conducted the humorous gala concert for the 100th anniversary of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He is also related to the orchestra’s history by kinship (Hans von Bülow, the first chief conductor of the orchestra, was distantly related to Loriot). His narrative version of Camille Saint-Saëns‘ The Carnival of the Animals was repeatedly performed by Loriot with the Scharoun Ensemble, a chamber music ensemble consisting of musicians of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. As a director, Loriot staged the operas Martha (Staatsoper Stuttgart, 1986) and Der Freischütz (Ludwigsburg, 1988). In 1983 Radio Bremen produced the broadcast “Loriot`s 60th birthday” for the broadcast station ARD on the occasion of Loriot’s 60th birthday. In 1988 he received the Bavarian Film Award, Special Prize, and in 1993 the Bavarian Film Award, Honorary Award.
Loriot was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Wuppertal in 2001. He is honorary citizen of his hometown Brandenburg an der Havel and his chosen home Münsing
since 1993. Furthermore, Loriot was a member of the Bavarian Academy of
the Fine Arts (Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste) since that same
year and of the Berlin Academy of the Arts (Berliner Akademie der Künste) since 1997. He became honorary professor of theatrical arts at the Berlin University of the Arts in June 2003. He received numerous awards for his performance in TV, movies and other disciplines. He died in Ammerland of old age.
Characteristics of his art
For the most part, his work dealt with problems of communication
between individuals. (Loriot: “What I am interested in most of all are
people whose communication fails. All that I consider comical results
from crumbled communication, from talk at cross purposes.”) His cartoons
hinged on the contrast between the presented situation, the dignity
displayed by his typically big nosed characters and the picture’s
caption. Inevitably one of these elements gets out of line, for example,
when he combines the caption “We demand equal treatment of men and
women, even if the suckling baby might temporarily lose weight.” with
the picture of a bulbous-nosed man breast-feeding a baby in a
distinguished manner. The topics of his cartoons were mainly drawn from
everyday life, scenes of the family and middle-class society.
The same contrast between absurd situation and dignified behaviour of
his characters could be seen in his various sketches and films.
Loriot’s enormous popularity, his accurate language, and high-brow
sense of comedy led to the adoption of a large number of phrases and
inventions from the series’s sketches into German common knowledge and
everyday speech. Among these are certainly the “yodel diploma”, the “stone louse“,
but also sentences like “With that, you have something of your own!”,
“Please, don’t talk right now…”, “There used to be more tinsel”,
“Look, a piano! A piano, a piano!” or the laconic, hardly translatable
“Ach!?” (“Oh, is it?”).
Lawsuit against Wikimedia Foundation for alleged copyright violation
|The stamps in question|
Pictures showing Loriot’s signature and German stamps with topics of
Loriot’s work that illustrated Loriot’s entry in the German-language
Wikipedia were removed by the Wikimedia Foundation on 8 November 2011. This action was prompted by an interim order forbidding Wikimedia to use these images that had been initiated by an heiress at the Landgericht Berlin on 6 October 2011 after an email of the heiress requesting their removal had not been answered. Wikimedia had to pay the cost of the legal proceedings.
The final court decision was announced on 27 March 2012; it upheld the
interim order regarding the stamps, but overturned it for the signature.
Wikimedia was ordered to pay 4⁄5 of the costs.
Accolades and awards
- 1943: Iron Cross 1st and 2nd Class
- 1973: Adolf Grimme Award in silver
- 1974: Karl-Valentin Medal
- 1986: Kassel Literary Prize
- 1988 & 1993: Bambi
- 1998: Great Cross of Merit with Star and Sash
- 2001: Honorary degree from the University of Wuppertal
To see more of who died in 2011 click here