Merkatz is the son of a firefighter. He first wanted to become a carpenter. After World War II he was an active Boy Scout in Wiener Neustadt. However, later he started to enroll in acting lessons in Salzburg, Vienna and Zurich. Then he found employment in theatres, most notably in Munich, Salzburg, Hamburg and Vienna (Theater in der Josefstadt).
During his later career he starred in several roles in television and motion pictures. In the role of Edmund Sackbauer (Mundl) in the 1970s, he became famous as the typical Viennese (Ein echter Wiener geht nicht unter). Another big success came with the films "Bockerer" starring as a naive Viennese during the Second World War in Vienna (the later films are set in the subsequent years to 1945).
Since 1999 Merkatz has been chairman of the human rights group SOS Mitmensch.
- Ein echter Wiener geht nicht unter: literally, A Genuine Viennese Does Not Go Under: In this 1975-1979 television series, which is about the life of a Viennese working-class family, he played Edmund "Mundl" Sackbauer, for which he is most known.
- Der Bockerer I-IV:, Merkatz plays the role of the Viennese butcher Karl Bockerer, who as a social democrat is shown during the time of the Anschluss and in the struggle against national socialism, during the post-war occupation of Austria by Allied forces, during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956 and the Prague Spring of 1968. He won the award for Best Actor at the 12th Moscow International Film Festival for his role in the first film.
- Der Mann von La Mancha: Merkatz played the roles of Miguel de Cervantes and Don Quixote in this 1994 German-language television adaptation of the classic musical Man of La Mancha.
Decorations and awards
- Best Actor (1981) and Film Award (1982) for The Bockerer (Part 1)
- German Film Awards: Best Actor (1982) for The Bockerer (Part 1)
- Honorary Medal of the Austrian capital Vienna in Gold (1995) for his services to theaters in Vienna and as an excellent performer of Viennese Types
- Honorary Ring of Wiener Neustadt (1995)
- Golden Romy as the most popular actor (1996)
- Austrian Cross of Honour for Science and Art (1999)
- Grand Gold Decoration for Services to the province of Lower Austria (2002)
- Philipp Pertl; Karl Merkatz (2010). "Alter Meister mit kleinen Fehlern". Skills-Pfadfinderinnen und Aussen.Magazin zum Abenteuer des Lebens. (in German). Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs und Monopol Verlag: 68–69.
- Kati Kieser;Lisa Niederdorfer (2010). "Dabei gewesen". Skills-Pfadfinderinnen und Aussen.Magazin zum Abenteuer des Lebens. (in German). Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs und Monopol Verlag: 66.
- "Dietmarpreisverleihung 2007" (in German). Pfadfindergruppe Ried im Innkreis. 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- Emanuel Riedmann (2009). "Die Werte des ewigen Geburtstagskindes" (in German). economy austria-Unabhängige Plattform für Wirtschaft und Bildung. Retrieved 2009-12-10.
- "Eingeschlagene Pfade". Skills-100 Jahre Pfadfinder.Magazin zum Abenteuer des Lebens. (in German). Pfadfinder und Pfadfinderinnen Österreichs und Monopol Verlag: 104. 2007.
- "12th Moscow International Film Festival (1981)". MIFF. Archived from the original on 2013-04-21. Retrieved 2013-01-25.
- "Reply to a parliamentary question" (pdf) (in German). p. 1264. Retrieved 21 January 2013.