David Hurst

David Hurst (born Heinrich Theodor Hirsch; 8 May 1926 – 15 September 2019) was a German actor, best known for his role in the film Hello, Dolly as Rudolph the headwaiter.

David Hurst
Heinrich Theodor Hirsch

8 May 1926
Died15 September 2019(2019-09-15) (aged 93)
Berlin, Germany
OccupationActor, theatre producer
Years active1948–2000


Early life and career

Hurst grew up in a family of actors. As a Jewish child living in 1930s Germany, he faced persecution from the Nazi regime. After the pogroms of Kristallnacht, the British government allowed for the rescue of Jewish children from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the Free City of Danzig. He was one of the nearly 10,000 children in 1938–1939 moved with the Kindertransport to the United Kingdom. When he was separated from his mother he was 12 years old. He never saw her again.

Housed in a manor in Northern Ireland, he lived with other young emigrants in the care of the family of an estate manager. His first stage experience was Belfast at a repertory theatre, where he also changed his name from Heinrich Hirsch to David Hurst. During the Second World War he joined the British army, but because of his German background he was assigned to Entertainments National Service Association, where he performed as an actor and a comedian.

His first film role was as Wolfgang Winkel in The Perfect Woman (1949), a role Hurst had previously played in the West End to critical praise. He went on to appear in many British films of the 1950s.

United States

In 1957, Hurst moved to the United States. He spent most of his time in California, but often performed on Broadway. He created the role of Merlin in the original Broadway production of Camelot opposite Richard Burton .

Throughout the 1950s and 1960s he played in film, television and theatre. In 1959 he received the Clarence Derwent Award and in 1964, he was awarded the Obie Award from The Village Voice for his off-Broadway performance in A Month in the Country.[1]

He performed in the film version of Hello, Dolly (1969) as Rudolph the headwaiter alongside Barbra Streisand and Walter Matthau. This has been his biggest role to date, and his most recognisable in America. He also had roles in the films Kelly's Heroes (1970) and The Boys From Brazil (1978). Hurst also appeared in numerous TV series including Mission: Impossible, Serpico and Star Trek.

Throughout his career he worked as a visiting professor at Yale, Boston University and Carnegie Mellon.

Return to Germany

In the 1980s he appeared in several German-American co-productions, and visited his half-brother Wolfgang Heinz in East Berlin. Hurst decided to remain in Germany, and worked in Vienna and Berlin with a fellow erstwhile emigrant (and Actors Studio colleague), theatre director George Tabori.[2] From 1991 Hurst worked at the Burgtheater, Vienna, eventually returning to live in Berlin in 2000, when he retired from acting. He died there on 15 September 2019 after suffering a stroke and pneumonia.[3][4]



Play Role Theatre Dates[5]
The Faithful Brethren of Pitt StreetJoseph KnaitschOrpheum Theatre5 – 20 November 1988
20 performances
DraculaAbraham Van HelsingBroadway20 October 1977 – 6 January 1980
Henry IVDr. Dionysius GenoniBroadway28 April – 28 May 1973
ElectraPaedagogusDelacorte Theater5 – 29 August 1964
22 performances
(New York Shakespeare Festival)
A Month in the CountryIgnaty Ilyitch ShpigelskyMaidman Playhouse1963 – 1964
48 performances
CamelotMerlinBroadway3 December 1960 – 5 January 1963
The Lunatic ViewYoung ManLucille Lortel TheatreNovember 1962
Under The Sycamore TreeThe ScientistCricket Theatre7 March – 10 April 1960
41 performances
Look After Lulu!The PolicemanBroadway3 March – 4 April 1959
A Midsummer Night's DreamEnsembleBroadway21 September – 17 October 1954


Year Title Role Notes
1949The Perfect WomanWolfgang Winkel
1950Tony Draws a HorseIvan
Soho ConspiracyFranco
1951Smart AlecPoppi
1952So Little TimeBlumel / Baumann
Old Mother Riley Meets the VampireMugsy
Venetian BirdMinelli
Top SecretProfessor Deutsch
1953Rough ShootLex
Always a BrideBeckstein
1954River BeatPaddy McClure
Mad About MenSignor Mantalini
1955One Good TurnProfessor Dofee
As Long as They're HappyDr. Hermann Schneider
All for MaryM. Victor
1956The Intimate StrangerDave PearsonUncredited
1957After the BallPerelli
1964The ConfessionGustave
1968How to Steal the WorldDr. Jan Vanovech(archive footage)
1969The Maltese BippyDr. Charles Strauss
Hello, Dolly!Rudolph Reizenweber
1970Kelly's HeroesCol. Dankhopf
1973Orville and WilburChanute
1978The Boys from BrazilStrasser


Year Title Role Notes
1956The Adventures of AggieLazareffEpisode: "Snap Judgment"
1957Armstrong Circle TheatreGovernment officialEpisode: "The Shepherd of Paris"
1958DuPont Show of the MonthMr. StryverEpisode: "A Tale of Two Cities"
Kraft Television Theatre2 Episodes: "Riddle of a Lady" and "Next Door to Death"
1960Play of the Week2 Episodes: "Tiger at the Gates" and "The Emperor's Clothes"
Dow Hour of Great MysteriesBaronEpisode: "The Dachet Diamonds"
1962Car 54, Where Are You?Robin Stuart, playwrightEpisode: "That's Show Business"
1964The DefendersDr. SchaefferEpisode: "Drink Like a Lady"
1965Look Up and Live2 Episodes: "The Initiation" and "The Judgment"
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Dr. Leland Mayes ElmontEpisode: "The Brain-Killer Affair"
The Patty Duke ShowDennis LatoucheEpisode: "It Takes a Heap of Livin'"
1966HawkLouis AnselmiEpisode: "The Longleat Chronicles"
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.Matthew BreckerEpisode: "The Mata Hari Affair"
1967Hallmark Hall of FamePetroviniEpisode: "Anastasia"
Mission: ImpossibleVictor GrigovEpisode: "The Astrologer"
MannixVladekEpisode: "The Many Deaths of Saint Christopher"
1968To Die in ParisPirotTV movie
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Dr. Jan VanovechEpisode: "The Seven Wonders of the World Affair"
It Takes a ThiefCaptain KovichEpisode: "When Boy Meets Girl"
The MonkeesThe BaronEpisode: "Monkees Race Again"
The Flying NunGus Mendoza – Sister Sixto's UncleEpisode: "A Fish Story"
Run for Your LifeHeinrich KleistEpisode: "The Exchange"
1969Star TrekHodinEpisode: "The Mark of Gideon"
Mission: ImpossibleDr. Oswald BeckEpisode: "The Test Case"
The Flying NunBenito GomezEpisode: "The Lottery"
1970The Mod SquadConsulate General FohgibEpisode: "The Exile"
The F.B.I.Alex KeelerEpisode: "The Traitor"
1971Dark ShadowsJustin Collins3 episodes
NET PlayhouseChanuteEpisode: "The Wright Brothers"
1976SerpicoDucekEpisode: "The Indian"
1977Nero WolfeFritzTV film broadcast 1979
McCloudColonel Andrei KrasnavianEpisode: "The Moscow Connection"
InsightEpisode: "Arnstein's Miracle"
1978Child of GlassJacques DumaineTV film
Eight Is EnoughEpisode : "The Hipbone's Connected to the Thighbone"
Quincy, M.E.Dr. Fred WebberEpisode: "Dead and Alive"
1979Ryan's HopeDr. NelsonUncredited, 1 episode
1980Charlie's AngelsStovichEpisode: "Angel in Hiding"
1981SkokieSol GoldsteinTV film, (final film role)


  1. "OBIES 1963–1964". The Village Voice. 28 May 1964. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
  2. David Hurst & George Tabori at the University of Wisconsin's Actors Studio audio collection, 1956–1969 Archived 2 May 2014 at the Wayback Machine
  3. "Die Tafelrunde trauert um David Hurst". Star Trek Tafelrunde "Hermann Darnell" (in German). 16 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  4. https://www.warp-core.de/news/david-hurst-verstorben/
  5. "Lortel Archives – The Internet Off-Broadway Database". lortel.org. Archived from the original on 6 October 2012. Retrieved 31 January 2011.
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