César Keiser or Hanspeter Keiser (4 April 1925 – 25 February 2007) was a Swiss cabarettist, comedian, radio personality, and stage and film actor starring usually in Swiss German language cinema and television and stage productions.
Life and work
Born in Basel, Canton of Basel-Stadt in Switzerland, Hanspeter Keiser attended the gymnasium (college), and from 1940 to 1950 the teacher seminary and arts college in Basel where he worked as a professor to 1951. During World War II Keiser was drummer in various entertainment and jazz groups, among others, together with Lukas Cheese Burckhardt in his own orchestra César Roy. In 1944 Keier founded the amateur theater group "Quodlibet Basel", a circle of literary and culturally interested people. In 1946 Keiser was co-founder of "Cabaret Kikeriki" in which Keiser participated as a writer and performer up to its dissolution in 1951. Then he was hired as an actor and writer for Cabaret Fédéral in Zürich, for which he had previously written several sketches and where he met his future wife and duo partner, Margrit Läubli, and starred until 1958. During ten months he was a travel correspondent in the Middle East in 1955/56. From 1958 Keiser was three years director and scriptwriter for commercials at the "CEFI" movie company in Zürich. On 18 April 1962 premiered his satirical program "César Keiser: Solo Programm" on Theater am Hechtplatz at Limmatquai Zürich, co-directed with Margrit Läubli. Exactly one year later, the second solo program "César Keiser: Opus 2" debuted on Hechtplatz stage, and from "Opus 3" (1964) Keiser and Läubli acted as a duo. Approximately every two years premiered a new "Opus" program until "Opus 13" (1989). In between, in 1972 "Opus Festival", a cross-section-anniversary program "Cabaret? Cabaret!" related to the history of the Swiss cabaret with historical texts in 1975, and in 1980 "Opus USA" followed by a US tour were among Keiser's further works. This was followed by "Opus 2000: Achtung Schnappschüsse!" in 1992, "Frisch geliftet!" in 1996, and in 2002 by the recapitulation program "Opus Feuerwerk". Almost all programs premiered at the Theater am Hechtplatz, then Keiser and Läubli went on tour in Switzerland and partly they gave guest performances in Germany and in the United States, in Washington and New York. The programs were recorded on tape and on television. Keiser wrote the texts, in the first two programs supported by Fridolin Tschudi and later by Lorenz Keiser, Margrit Läubli's and his son. Among the longtime musical staff were René Gerber, Hans Moeckel, Werner Kruse, Bruno Spoerri, later Mathis Keiser (son of Läubli and Keiser). In addition to these duo programs, in 1976 Keiser and Läubli directed the exhibition "1916–1976: 60 Jahre Theater in der Schweiz" in the Helmhaus gallery-museum in Zürich. As commissioned works Keiser wrote the musical "Robinson" which premiered on 29 December 1979 at the Stadttheater St. Gallen. In the musical "Lueg uf zrugg Züri", he staged together with Läubli, alongside Elizabeth Quick, Noëmie Nadelmann, Ueli Beck, Ernst Stiefel and over eighty laymen actresses and actors, at the "Stadthof 11" theater in Zürich-Oerlikon. In 1995 Keiser and Läubli produced the Swiss German musical comedy "Wer zuletzt stirbt...", starring Keiser and among others Heinz Bühlmann and Mathis Keiser. Besides, Keiser provided permanently works for the Swiss radio, and in 1998 a jointly drafted duo program with Mathis Keiser: "The Lady Is a Tramp!", and a tribute to Frank Sinatra, again on the Hechtplatz stage. Keiser also published some cabaret-related books.
César Keiser was buried at the Enzenbühl cemetery in Zürich-Weinegg.
- 2004: Ehren Prix Walo for his lifetime work.
- 2003: Goldplakette by Zuger Annemarie und Eugen Hotz-Stiftung,
- 1999: Salzburger Ehrenstier.
- 1990: Cornichon-Preis by Oltner Cabaret-Tage.
- 1984: Auszeichnung für kulturelle Verdienste by the city of Zürich.
- 1982: Literaturkommissionen der Zürcher Kantonsregierung und der Stadt Zürich.
Filmography (selected works)
- 2005: Mein Name ist Eugen (Rascals on the Road, international English title)
- 2005: Anjas Engel (Television film)
- 2001–2003: Lüthi und Blanc (Television series, 54 episodes)
- 1982: Der Besuch der alten Dame (Television film)
- 1982: Herr Herr (Television film)
- 1962: Spaß mit Ernst (Stankovski) (Television film)
- 1962: Chikita
- 1959: Hinter den sieben Gleisen
- 1956: Polizischt Wäckerli
- 1954: Grüezi, Herr Nachbar!
- César Keiser and Margrit Läubli: Das Grosse César Keiser Cabaret Buch. Huber Frauenfeld 2005, ISBN 3-7193-1400-6.