2 July 1936
Straubing, Bayern, Germany
26 October 1999 (aged 63)
Rex Gildo (July 2, 1939 - October 26, 1999) was a German singer of schlager ballads who reached the height of his popularity in the 1960s and 1970s, selling over 25 million records and starring in film and television roles.
Gildo was born Ludwig Alexander Hirtreiter in Straubing, Bavaria and was a member of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir before going to acting school. His first performance was with the Munich Kammerspiele theatre group in 1956, but he quickly moved into television and film, as well as performing as a singer; most famously duetting with Danish singer Gitte Haenning as "Gitte & Rex".
His most popular songs, such as Speedy Gonzales (1962), Goodbye Susanna (1965) and Fiesta Mexicana (1972) were million sellers and his sentimental, fernweh (wanderlust)-evoking music, often flavoured with Spanish or Mexican lyrics or styles, was especially in demand in the politically unsettled 1960s and 70s. His music and films sold well in Germany, but less so abroad, and he has been compared to Cliff Richard or Tom Jones. He also starred in his own television program, Gestatten - Rex Gildo.
In 1974, Gildo married his cousin Marion Ohlsen. The couple had no children and separated in 1990.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Gildo's popularity decreased and he felt pressured to maintain his public image. His appearances were mainly at folk festivals, shopping centres and other similar venues where audiences were sometimes less than kind; he was also reported to have problems with alcoholism, although this may have been due to medication he was taking. His final performance, on the day of his suicide, was in front of more than 3000 people at a furniture shop outside Frankfurt.
Gildo died in 1999 aged 60, having spent three days in an artificially-induced coma after attempting suicide by jumping from the window of his apartment building. He was said to have been suffering psychological problems. After his death, it was reported that he had been gay and involved in a relationship with Dave Klingeberg, his secretary with whom he lived, for seven years. Gildo was buried next to his long-time companion, Fred Miekley.
In 2007, "Fiesta Mexicana (Hossa)" was brought into a whole new generation of people when the New York Rangers started playing the song whenever winger Marcel Hossa scored a goal.
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