Heinz Erhardt (born February 20, 1909 in Riga; died June 5, 1979 in Hamburg) was a German comedian, musician, entertainer, actor, and poet.
Heinz Erhardt was the son of Baltic German Kapellmeister Gustl Erhardt. He lived most of his childhood at his grandparents in Riga, where his grandfather, Paul Nelder, owned a music house. His grandfather also taught him how to play piano; Erhardts wish to become a professional piano player was not supported by his grandparents who wanted him to work as a merchant.
In 1935, Erhardt married Gilda Zanetti. He had four children: Grit, Verena, Gero, and Marita. Gero Erhardt became a film director and cinematographer, and his son, Marek Erhardt, became an actor.
The spectacle wearer and nonswimmer Erhardt was drafted into the German navy during the Second World War, but only on the third callup; he served as a piano player in the Marine orchestra and only handled weapons during his basic training.
After the World War, he moved to Hamburg-Wellingsbüttel and worked beginning in 1948 as a radio moderator at NWDR. From then on he became more and more famous for his countless pun poems. Also, he became an actor. In his movies he played always a character that fit to his stage appearance as an entertainer and comedian. His roles were polite and slightly weird persons typical for the time period of the economic miracle.
Heinz Erhardt suffered a stroke in 1971, which left him unable to speak or write. He was limited to reading and understanding the speech of others; these limitations ended his long career as an actor.
He was awarded the German Distinguished Service Cross four days before his death in 1979.