Controversial Dutch artist Johannes Heesters dies at 108

24th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Johannes Heesters, a controversial operetta singer who became famous in Nazi Germany and who was considered one of the world's oldest performing artists, died on Saturday aged 108, his agency said.

A favourite of Hitler, Heesters was born in the Netherlands in 1903 and made his name performing in Nazi Germany.

He died in a clinic in the town of Starnberg in Bavaria where he lived, said his agency Ross.

Heesters played in numerous films and theatre plays, including performing the main role in the Merry Widow, an operetta by Franza Lehar, some 1,600 times.

Heesters' popularity with the Nazis haunted him throughout his life, with protests accompanying his 2008 concert in the Netherlands, his first in decades in his home country.

During his previous concert in the Netherlands in 1963 the audience chased him off by giving him a Hitlerian salute when he appeared on stage.

© 2011 AFP

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