Thomas Gottschalk, 2010
Thomas Johannes Gottschalk
18 May 1950
|Occupation||Radio host, television personality, entertainer, actor|
|Thea (m. 1976)|
Thomas Johannes Gottschalk (born 18 May 1950) is a German radio and television host, entertainer and actor. He is best known for hosting Wetten, dass..?, for many years Europe's biggest television show, which he led to a huge success in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and South Tyrol between 1987 and 2011. Until 2015 he was also the testimonial personality in television advertisements for Haribo confectionery.
Gottschalk was born in the German city of Bamberg, Bavaria, as the son of a lawyer. After attending the Humanistisches Gymnasium (humanities-oriented high school) in Kulmbach, he studied history and German philology, eventually taking his exams as a teacher for primary and secondary schools; however, it was during this time that he discovered his true vocation: entertainment.
From 1971 on, Gottschalk worked as a freelancer for the youth program of the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting); in 1973, he became anchor for a news program. In 1976, after a brief detour to the newspaper Münchner Merkur, he became a regular contributor at the Bayerischer Rundfunk, and subsequently gained popularity as the host of the show Pop nach acht. He was awarded the Kurt-Magnus-Preis for his "outstanding talents" as a radio host in 1978.
Starting in 1977, Gottschalk hosted the TV show Telespiele. Initially broadcast on the Bayerischer Rundfunk's television channel, it switched to the national public ARD channel in 1980. In the same year, Gottschalk founded GLS United, the first German Hip Hop group and performed the first German rap song, "Rapper's Deutsch".
From 1982 to 1987, Gottschalk hosted the show Na sowas on ZDF and was awarded the Goldene Kamera (golden camera) for his performance on that show in 1985. During that period he also starred in several German comedies with actor Mike Krüger. Gottschalk occasionally works as an actor until today, taking roles in the Hollywood movies Trabbi goes to Hollywood (1991) and Zookeeper (2011). In 1993, Gottschalk starred in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993) as a consequence of leading actress Whoopi Goldberg losing a bet in Gottschalk's gameshow Wetten, dass..?. He plays the sausage-obsessed German cook, Father Wolfgang.
In 1987, Gottschalk replaced Frank Elstner as host of Wetten, dass..?, which he continued until December 3, 2011, with only a brief interruption from 1992 to 1994 when the show was taken over by Wolfgang Lippert. Reportedly, his withdrawal from the show was related to an accident that happened live on Wetten, dass..? in December 2010. A contestant in the show, a young gymnast, was paralyzed from the shoulders down after being hit by a car during a stunt.
From 1992 to 1995, Gottschalk also hosted a late night show on television, Gottschalk Late Night, and while it was not very successful, it is considered a predecessor to such shows such as the Harald Schmidt Show, TV Total and the Johannes B. Kerner Show. Gottschalk Late Night also featured the Model '92 Competition during 1992, in which Heidi Klum was the winner and received a modeling contract and winning prize, paving the way for her modeling career.
Gottschalk has been awarded a number of prizes for his work; apart from those mentioned above. These include the Telestar in 1987, the Goldenes Schlitzohr (golden rascal) and the Goldenes Kabel (golden cable) in 1991, as well as the Goldene Feder (golden feather) in 2001. He also received a total of three Bambi awards, which he returned in 1988 after a dispute with the publisher Burda. However, in 2001, he was awarded a "Bambi of honor" which he accepted. In 2012 Gottschalk co-hosted the show Das Supertalent.
Gottschalk has been married to his wife Thea since 1976. He has two sons, Roman and Tristan and one grandson (born 2010). In 2019, he announced that he will divorce after 43 years of marriage.
On November 16, 2004, Gottschalk bought Castle Marienfels in Remagen, Germany. He lived there from 2006 to 2013. It was announced at the end of January 2013 that he had sold the castle to Frank Asbeck. He had a secondary residence in Malibu, California, since the beginning of the 1990s. The residence burned completely down in the 2018 California wildfires.
In 2005, Gottschalk received an entry in the Guinness World Records, having been featured in longest running ad featuring one person; since 1991 he has appeared in ads for the sweets company Haribo.