Westerns from the East

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Gojko Mitic, born June 13, 1940, in Leskovac, Serbia, started to study in Belgrad at the age of 20 to become a sports teacher. From 1961 on, he worked as a body double and stuntman for British and Italian productions that were filmed in Yugoslavia. Then, from 1963 on, he started to play minor roles in the Karl May films made by Rialto productions (West Germany) and appeared in a larger role in "Unter Geiern"("Among Vultures").

At the same time, East German state movie production company DEFA prepared to shoot its first western movie about Indians that was also to be shot in Yugoslavia in 1965. Gojko Mitic got the leading role in "Die Söhne der großen Bärin" ("The Sons of Great Bear"), thus starting a career as the Indian chief in the DEFA western movies. He also became DEFA's "probably only true star" (Gottfried Kolditz). Until 1975, DEFA made one western movie a year with Mitic in the leading as a positive hero, portraying a noble and courageous Indian chief. Mitic did not use any body doubles for action scenes and performed all the stunts by himself.

Until 1984, Mitic played leading roles in 12 western movies altogether. But he tried to overcome the cliché of the "DEFA's main Indian" with several other roles and starred in the science fiction film "Signale – Ein Weltraumabenteuer" ("Signals: A Space Adventure") as well as in the multi-part TV movies "Das Geheimnis der Anden" und "Visa für Ocantros". On TV, he made distinguished performances in contemporary movies, for instance as a sports teacher in "Zweite Liebe ehrenamtlich". Mitic also performed as a singer and hosted entertainment shows such as "Ein Kessel Buntes" or the quiz show "Gong". In 1975, Mitic performed on stage for the first and appeared as Spartacus during the summer season of Harzer Bergtheater. Until 1984, he appeared in numerous adventurous roles at Harzer Bergtheater, including D’Artagnan and Rinaldo, and also directed his first play.

Between 1981 and 1989, Mitic wrote and directed five films for the children's TV series "Jan und Tini". He also starred in several children's movies on the big screen, including "Der lange Ritt zur Schule" and "Das Herz des Piraten" where he embodied his own myth.

After the breakdown of the GDR, Mitic had to settle for smaller roles first, for instance in the film version of Bernhard Sinkel's "Der Kinoerzähler" ("The Movie Teller"). From 1992 on, he succeeded Pierre Brice and played Winnetou at Bad Segeberg's Karl May Freilichtspiele. Because of his artistic skills he was able to win over the audience again and played the role more than 1000 times until 2006. Mitic also won popularity in West Germany with his role as Roberto Fiorani in the ARD series "Verbotene Liebe". He also played in some more TV-movies and -series. In 2008 he returns to the cinema with a role in the tragicomedy "Esperanza".


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