Wolfgang Becker, helmer of several long-running German detective series, died Feb. 1 in Munich. He was 94.
Becker, (who shared the name of the “Good Bye Lenin!” helmer) was born in Berlin. With production companies Tobis and Ufa, he initially worked as an editor, later as assistant director, and until 1950 was mostly involved in the production of documentaries.
He then took over the helm of various movies, peaking in the 1958 hit “Peter Voss, der Millionendieb,” one of two pics about gentleman thief character Peter Voss, played by the recently deceased O.W. Fischer.
In the early ’60s he began working in TV, and became one of the busiest helmers during the decades when the country was basically ruled by two public broadcasters. In 1969, ZDF started “Der Kommissar,” the mother of all Teutonic whodunit series, which kept Becker busy for the six years. He took over the helm at ZDF’s other similar prime time series: “Derrick,” which was to become Germany’s biggest TV export, and later “Der Alte.”
He gained more freedom with competing web ARD, which would occasionally enlist Becker to direct its Sunday night event movie “Tatort,” German TV’s prime showcase for cop stories.
Becker retired before the advent of commercial TV and American-style detective shows. He helmed his last episode of “Derrick” in 1990 at the age of 80.