Käthe Reichel, born March 3, 1926, in Berlin, attended commercial training and became a draper before she turned to acting rather by accident after the end of World War II. Without ever attending drama school, she became a cast member at the theatre in Greiz. In 1950, Bert Brecht who recognized her acting talent, brought her to Berliner Ensemble. There, she worked hard for her reputation as a born Brecht actress with highly-praised performances in "Die Dreigroschenoper" ("The Threepenny-Opera") and in "Der kaukasische Kreidekreis" ("The Caucasian Chalk Circle"), among others.
Kaethe Reichel in "Levin's Mill", 1980
Photo: Dieter Jaeger
From 1961 on, Käthe Reichel continued her theatre career at a new place of activity – as a cast member of Deutsches Theater Berlin. With unabated success, she performed, for instance, in Lessing’s "Minna von Barnhelm" or in Sean O'Caseys "Juno and the Paycock ".
Käthe Reichel made her movie debut in 1951 in a small role in Arthur Pohl’s "Corinna Schmidt" but did not continue her movie career for several years. Instead, she perpetuated her theatre career. 18 years later, after her role in the fairy tale movie "Wie heiratet man einen König" (1969), Reichel finally started to work regularly for movie productions. She was mainly seen in key supporting roles, for instance in Roland Gräf’s "Mein lieber Robinson" ("My Friend Robinson", 1971), in the classic DEFA movie "Die Legende von Paul und Paula" ("The Legend of Paul and Paula", 1973), where she played the eccentric wife of the shooting gallery owner, or in the drama "Die Verlobte" ("The Fiancée", 1980), where Reichel played an emotionally torn prison warden.
Besides her acting career, Käthe Reichel became known for her political activities. In 1976, she collected signatures against the expatriation of Wolf Biermann, and during the turnaround in the GDR, she was a strong advocate for alternative political perspectives, to state only two examples. In 2000, Reichel was awarded the human rights awards by the "Gesellschaft zum Schutz der Bürgerrechte und Menschenwürde" ("Society for the protection of civil rights and human dignity").
Käthe Reichel is living in Berlin.
Source: Deutsches Filminstitut – DIF