Dirch Passer

Dirch Hartvig Passer (18 May 1926 – 3 September 1980) was a celebrated Danish actor. He was greatly renowned for his improvisational skills and, with a filmography comprising 90 movies, one of Denmark's most prolific actors. His life is depicted in the Danish semi-biographical film A Funny Man (2011, Danish title Dirch) directed by Martin Zandvliet.[1]

Dirch Passer
Dirch Passer.jpg
Dirch Passer (1974)
Dirch Hartvig Passer

(1926-05-18)18 May 1926
Died3 September 1980(1980-09-03) (aged 54)
Copenhagen, Denmark
OccupationActor, comedian
Years active1947–1980
Spouse(s)Hanne Bjerre [da; no], Sigrid Horne-Rasmussen
Partner(s)Judy Gringer, Bente Askjær
ChildrenDorte Passer [da], Carsten Krog-nielsen born 7 August 1951 and Josefine Passer, born 13 January 1966


When he was young, Passer was very shy, but had an ambition to become an actor. Instead, he conformed to his father's wishes by attending the J. Lauritzen sea training school near Svendborg in 1944. But since he had persistent problems with seasickness, he later attended the drama school De frederiksbergske teatres Elevskole.

During the 1950s he formed a duo with his colleague and friend Kjeld Petersen.[2] Their revue sketches, based upon the contrast between Petersen's mixture of joviality and desperate anger and Passer's deadpan responses, are still considered classics by the public. The sudden death of Kjeld Petersen in 1962 led Passer to avoid revues for five years, but he built up an individual reputation and in 1967 he returned to the revue gaining new victories. Many thin jokes in the scripts were greatly improved by his performance. In particular, his many amiable eccentrics and "nature experts" together with his sketch roles as a baby and as a nonsense "Russian"-speaking clown made him famous. From his later years must be mentioned an almost silent sketch in which he portrays a man's vain attempt to stop smoking (also shown in West German TV). It was told that he could speak any language, however he wouldn't understand any of it, which was one of his good qualities.

In his life, Dirch Passer wanted to play more serious roles instead of remaining in comedy. However, his image as a comedian was so solid that his attempt to break into serious acting was a failure.[3]


He was often referred to as a loud actor in spite of the fact that under-acting was responsible for much of his force. A Danish critic, Jens Kistrup, once said that one of the secrets behind the comedy of Passer was its combination of elements that are normally regarded as incompatible. He possessed noisiness and discretion, loudness and quietness, boundlessness and complete control, craziness and softness – all this combined with a special intimacy with the audience.[citation needed] Among the inspirations he mentioned Joe E. Brown but he was also known for his admiration of the British comedian Tommy Cooper. In his films, which were of very mixed quality, he often played kind and somewhat crazy "Everymen" or antiheroes. Among his best movie roles were stage roles transferred to film; here must be mentioned the hero in Charley's Aunt (1959), Celestin-Floridor in Frøken Nitouche (1963) and Leopold in Summer in Tyrol (i.e. The White Horse Inn, 1964).

Dirch Passer (right) with composer Aage Stentoft

Numerous Danish actors see him as a role model. In day-to-day life he was quite shy in behaviour, somewhat the opposite of his theatrical appearances. He collapsed just off stage dressed as a clown for the opening number of the season premiere of Tivolirevyen [da], dying shortly after arrival at the hospital.

Selected filmographyEdit


  1. ^ imdb.com – A Funny Man
  2. ^ Jesper Gaarskjær (March 2011). Kjeld & Dirch: Historien om Danmarks største komikerpar. ArtPeople. ISBN 978-87-7108-387-3.
  3. ^ Tommy Gustafsson (15 May 2015). Nordic Genre Film. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-0-7486-9319-1.

External linksEdit