Beloved German comic Loriot dead at 87

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One of the most popular German comedians of the post-war period, Vicco von Buelow, better known by his stage name Loriot, has died at the age of 87, his publishing house Diogenes Verlag said Tuesday.

It cited his advanced age as the cause of his death in southern Germany Monday.

Giving the lie to Germany as a humour-challenged nation, von Buelow was beloved for his television sketch comedy blending pratfalls with dry wit and was a fixture in German sitting rooms for decades.

An amiable gentleman of aristocratic heritage with a keen sense of the absurd, Loriot frequently played the pompous fool, often with actress Evelyn Hamann as his foil.

A household name in Germany since the 1950s, Loriot found success in film, theatre, publishing as well as television.

He made his start drawing bulb-nosed cartoon characters, as well as whimsical dog and elephant figures called Wum and Wendelin, which he developed for the ZDF public television programme "The Big Prize".

His comics and satirical prose, published by Diogenes, sold millions in German-speaking Europe, and he scored two box office smashes with movies he wrote and directed -- "Oedipussi", about a man with an unhealthy attachment to his mother, and "Pappa ante Portas".

Fans said his sense of the farcical in daily life always managed to touch a nerve.

"I get letters from people all the time who ask how I know what is happening in their lives behind closed doors," the father of two said in a newspaper interview. "For me, laughter is an act of recognising oneself."

Born in 1923 as Bernhard Victor Christoph-Carl von Buelow to a military officer in the eastern town of Brandenburg on the Havel, he later took Loriot, French for oriole, as his stage name because the bird was his old-line family's animal mascot.

He regularly figured near the top of lists of the most popular Germans.

In recent years, he rarely appeared in public, spending most of his time at his villa on Bavaria's Lake Starnberg.

© 2011 AFP

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