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German Comic Rudi Carrell passes away

Berlin (Reuters): Rudi Carrell, a Dutch comic entertainer who took West Germany by storm in the 1960s and once sparked a diplomatic crisis by mocking Iran's supreme leader, has died at the age of 71. Carrell's tall, thin stature and unmistakable mop of white hair was standard fare on German television and cinema screens during the last 40 years. ''When I first came to Germany, I could only speak English,'' Carrell once said. ''But now the German language has so many English words that I speak fluent German.'' In 1960, he crooned his way to second-to-last place in the Eurovision Song Contest.

Carrell's thick Dutch accent and provocative humour were the trademark of television shows like ''The Rudi Carrell Show'', ''Rudi's Daily Show'' and others. In 1987, he did a comedy skit in which veiled women threw their undergarments at someone dressed like the Islamic Republic of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The outraged Iranian government responded by expelling two German diplomats and closing the Goethe Institute in Tehran.

A skilled comic, Carrell was famous for his quotable quips, such as: ''Newscasters always begin with 'Good Evening' and then need 15 minutes to explain that it is not a good evening.'' Born Rudolf Wijbrand Kesselaar, Carrell, a smoker, confirmed he was suffering from lung cancer last year. ''Germany has given me ten times more than I ever expected,'' he recently said. ''I owe my life to this wonderful country.'' According to Radio Bremen, where Carrell had once worked, the entertainer died on Friday.

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