Wolfgang Preiss was a German theatre, film and television actor.
The son of a teacher, in the early 1930s Preiss studied philosophy, German and drama. He also took private acting classes with Hans Schlenck, making his stage début in Munich in 1932. He went to appear in various theatre productions in Heidelberg, Königsberg, Bonn, Bremen, Stuttgart and Berlin.
In 1942 he made his film début - he was exempted from military service specifically - in the UFA production Die grosse Liebe with Zarah Leander. After the end of the Second World War Preiss returned to the theatre, and from 1949 worked extensively dubbing films into German.
In 1954 he returned to film acting, appearing in Alfred Weidenmann's Canaris. The following year Preiss played the lead role of Claus von Stauffenberg in Falk Harnack's film Der 20. Juli, which dramatised the 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler. This role brought Preiss to popular attention and also the 1956 Federal Film Award.
From now on Preiss was largely typecast in the role of the upright and obligation-conscious German officer to the other A-list actor playing the fanatic a part he played in many films, later reprising it in numerous international productions, predominantly in Italy and the USA, while occasionally playing a more typically cynical or brutal Nazi officer.