Wolf Gerlach

1928-2012 - versatile artist, inventor of the Mainzelmännchen

Born in Pomerania, Germany, in 1928, Wolf Theodor Gerlach spent his youth living on the North Sea island of Langeoog. The technology and equipment of the performing arts seem to have aroused the young man's interest. After an apprenticeship as a film architect, stage and costume designer, he had his first job in Oldenburg, then Braunschweig and Wiesbaden. At the beginning of the 1960s, Gerlach devoted himself to advertising films and in 1963, for the launch of the public-service television broadcaster ZDF, he created the animated station-identity mascots "Mainzelmännchen".

Gerlach, dissatisfied with all the attempts of dedicated dubbing actors to give his characters the right voice, dubbed them himself in the first few years. And just as the distinctive voice and manner of speaking of actor Hans Paetsch heard on fairy tale records enchanted generations of children and their parents from the 1960s onwards, Gerlach spoke his way into the hearts of television viewers with the famous greeting that he invented and crowed: "Gud'n Aaamd" a dialect coloured "Guten Abend" ("good evening"). His mischievous, cheeky and impertinent characters will always be with us.

Wolf Gerlach died in November 2012 at the age of 84.