Versatile German character actor Gunter Meisner launched his busy film career in 1959 with Babette s'en va-t-en Guerre (Babette Goes to War). Fluent in four languages, he went on to appear in numerous German and European film and television productions. He is noted for his impersonation of Adolf Hitler in films such as L'As de As (The Ace of Aces) (1982). Fans of Willie Wonka and the Chcolate Factory (1971) will recognize Meisner for playing Willie Wonka's deliciously wicked-seeming rival, Mr. Slugworth.
Originally, Meisner aspired to become a sculptor and a painter, but he switched to drama and began studying under prominent German actor Gustaf Grundgens at Dusseldorf's State Conservatory. Meisner's television work include appearances in The Winds of War (ABC), Blood and Honor (CBS), and The Wilderness Years (BBC). He also played recurring roles on the soap operas One Life to Live and The Edge of Night. He directed two films: Don't Look for Me in Places Where I Can't Be Found, an exploration of racism in Africa, and Bega Dwa Bega (One for All), a Swahili-language film for the Tanzanian Film Unit. As a theater actor and director, Meisner specialized in the "theater of the absurd," comedies, and classical dramas. He has appeared on-stage the world over, and in 1959, founded the Gallery Diogenes in Berlin. In 1961, he founded the International Association for Arts & Sciences and the year after that launched the Diogenes Studio Theater. In 1994, while working on a television movie, Tatort - Die Kampagne (1995), Meisner suffered a fatal heart attack.