New biography: Dieter Hallervorden suffered from suicidal thoughts

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In public, he mainly plays the comedian. But not so long ago, deep fissures opened in him. Dieter Hallervorden now reveals this in an updated biography. Abuse of a drug was also to blame.

Dieter Hallervorden battles a life-threatening illness. In the updated biography “Hallervorden. Ein Komiker macht Ernst” by Tim Prose, the actor first tells about his long-kept secret.

Advice and emergency help for people at risk of suicide and depression

“I didn’t feel well for a while and that’s why I was admitted to a clinic. I just had too many suicidal thoughts at the time,” Prose quoted the 87-year-old as saying in the new issue, which will be published on Thursday. “One day these suicidal thoughts dragged me down longer and deeper than I was used to anyway.”

This became acute a year ago, they say. “His wife Christiane and his best friend were looking for a psychiatric clinic for him at the time. Hallervorden canceled all appointments for the next few weeks, packed his suitcase and went to the hospital for 21 days,” the book says.

“It didn’t go on like this”

Hallervorden told Prose about a sleeping pill “which he had unfortunately taken far too often for 30 years. From the start, the package insert said you should never take this drug for more than six weeks.” At one point, Hallervorden admitted to himself “that this drug no longer calmed him, but made him sick”.

The warning signs have become increasingly clear. “It didn’t go like that anymore. I couldn’t live like this anymore,” said Hallervorden, according to Prose. In the fall of 2021, the comedian revealed to his wife Christiane “what an abyss had opened in him and how dark it was in his soul”. He then took the most important step alone: ​​”For the first time in his life he gave his pills to the clinic in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Of course also his cigarettes.”

The doctors at the clinic were looking for a replacement that wouldn’t make you dependent, Prose continues. In addition, Hallervorden learned to meditate and “follow your breath” in the clinic. The 87-year-old also revealed how he managed this: “By following Christiane’s breath, who always falls asleep very quickly when she lies next to me at night. It works very well. I put myself in her arms, snuggle up to her and take over her breathing rhythm – her deep, calm, even beats.”

“He runs through his life”

Today Dieter Hallervorden is “full of energy”, says Prose in an interview. He has “just opened his third theatre, this time in Dessau, his hometown. And he always wants more. He runs through his life.”

The book says of the time in the clinic, “The experts designed a new lifestyle for their patient.” For outsiders, a change was “preferable not to see” afterwards, the author says. Hallervorden kept it a secret for a long time. “It’s not easy for a man who always makes everyone laugh to confess in our book that sometimes he didn’t want to live anymore.”

From the spotlight to the dark

Hallervorden confided in him, “because I’ve been accompanying him and playing with him for five years now,” says Prose, adding: “I am most interested in Hallervorden as a person – with his vulnerable and often tormented soul. And so early I ask him one night how he is really doing. This man struggles with the depression of an artist who always gives everything. And because of that, he regularly falls in the dark after his time in the spotlight.”

A year ago, however, this had peaked and become life-threatening, Prose said. By talking about it now, Hallervorden wants to “encourage people to open up and talk about what’s bothering them, instead of hiding it.”

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