Swiss comedian turns 70

On Monday, Swiss comedian Emil Steinberger turns 70 Keystone Archive

The Swiss actor and comedian, Emil Steinberger, is celebrating his 70th birthday on Monday.

This content was published on January 5, 2003 - 17:47

The Lucerne-born comedian has entertained Swiss as well as foreign audiences for more than 25 years.

Steinberger's most famous character was "Emil" - a stand-up comedy character, who was rather naïve and helpless. Steinberger said he never set out to insult anybody - "life is sad enough".

The comedian was born in Lucerne on January 6, 1933. Before he started his career as a humourist, he worked as a postal worker and later became a graphic designer.

In 1964, he started his first show with "Emil and the 40 robbers", and three years later Steinberger opened a fringe theatre in Lucerne, which still exists today.


In 1967 Steinberger became "Emil" - a simple character, who questioned life no matter whether he was an attendant at a petrol station, a ski instructor or a postal worker.

After achieving great success with Emil, Steinberger looked for a career change and joined the Swiss national circus "Knie" for nine months.

During his time there, the circus achieved record visitors numbers.

At first, Steinberger only entertained German-speaking audiences. However, in 1983 he managed to cross the language barrier and conquer the French-speaking part of Switzerland with his show "français federal".

Good-bye Emil

In 1987, Steinberger wanted to shake off his character - a task that did not always prove easy as many people identified him with Emil.

After his last show, Steinberger said he wanted to stop acting as Emil once and for all. "Emil, you've got to resign. It's Steinberger's turn now," he said.

Steinberger moved to New York in 1993, where he was looking for inspiration and a quiet life as a non-celebrity.

After marrying his second wife, Niccel Kristuf, in 1999, Steinberger returned to Switzerland, where the couple settled down in Territet near Montreux.

The same year he published his book "True lies" - a collection of 30 stories and anecdotes.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Emil Steinberger turns 70 on January 6.
He is most famous for his "Emil" character.
After 20 years in show business, he conquered the French-speaking parts of Switzerland.

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