'I will live on for a long time as a replay'

Many of my non-German readers may have never heard of Rudi Carrell.

Who was Rudi Carrell?

Rudi Carrell was the man who caused the sudden closing down of the iconic German Goethe Institut in Tehran in 1987.

Was Rudi Carrell a politician, a political activist or an opinion leader of any other description?

No he wasn't. The man with the distinctive accent was a hugely popular Dutch TV entertainer on German TV.

Rudi Carrell was born on December 19, 1934 in Alkmaar (Holland) as Rudolf Wijbrand Kesselaar. He came from a family with a long tradition in entertaining. 1964, he was awarded the Montreux Silver Rose for the "Rudi-Carrell-Show" of the Dutch TV. Following this success, he became one of the all-time-greats of German and Austrian TV with Saturday night family shows starting with the German version of "Die Rudi-Carrell-Show" (1965-74) and countless more following. He was a fixed star in the sky of German TV ever since until he retired in 2002. He starred in many film comedies, too, and had some success as a chansonnier with at least one evergreen in his pocket.

Carrell, ever the chain smoker who had given up cigarettes only after lung cancer had been diagnosed in 2005, bore his illnes with great dignity and talked openly about his imminent death: "I will live on for a long time as a replay." He had bidden his last farewell to his German audience publicly on TV, stating that Germany, which he had made his home decades ago, "...has given me ten times more than I expected." And: "I owe this wonderful country my life."

In 1987, he had caused a political crisis between Germany and Iran when one of his comic film montages of a mock-newscast showed then Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini being favourably bestowed with women's underwear by his heavily veiled, adoring female followers.

The then Bonn government had to decide whether they would comply with the Iranian demand of an official apology, but refused do do so by citing the freedom of expression of the media. The Iranian government responded with the expulsion of two German diplomats and the closing down of the Goethe Institut in Tehran.

That was the time before German governments were falling over themselves to please the criminal regimes of Iran.

Last Friday, Carrell died peacefully in a hospital in Bremen. Rest in peace, Rudi!

(Original entry from July 10, 2006.)