Remember Franz Liebkind, "The Producers" character quoted by Carol Moseley Braun in her ill-considered Hitler joke on Sunday? He was the Nazi who insisted “the Fuhrer was kind, the Fuhrer was sweet, the Fuhrer was good!” Just as Rahm Emanuel’s admen insist their famously ill-tempered candidate is kind, sweet and good, according to Moseley Braun.
As it turns out, the actor who played Liebkind, Kenneth Mars, died the day before Moseley Braun dragged him into the mayor’s race. It’s a shame, because Mars probably would have been interested: he was a native Chicagoan who grew up in Calumet Heights, where he attended Caldwell Elementary and Bowen High School.
Mars went on to study at Northwestern University before beginning his acting career with a role on Car 54, Where Are You? Mars also appeared in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and Radio Days, as well as dozens of TV series (he was Otto on Malcolm in the Middle), but he’s best remembered for his work with Mel Brooks. Besides Franz Liebkind, Mars played Inspector Kemp in Young Frankenstein.
At Monday night’s mayoral debate, Emanuel said he had accepted Moseley Braun’s explanation that she wasn’t comparing him to Hitler. Then he criticized moderator Carol Marin for bringing up the issue, suggesting her questions should focus on policies, not personalities. Emanuel can afford to be nice to Moseley Braun, because she’s thrown away any chance of beating him by, among other things, making Nazi jokes.
So Franz Liebkind’s role in the Chicago mayor’s race is over. It’s just as well, because his creator is no longer around to enjoy this resurgence of fame in his hometown.
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