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German entertainer Achim Mentzel dies at 69

After succumbing to a sudden illness, former East German television entertainer Achim Mentzel has died. Politicians and celebrities celebrated his life, with some taking to social media to pay their respects.

The 69-year-old entertainer, known for his comedic role in German television, died in a hospital on Monday after being taken to the intensive care unit.

His wife Brigitte Mentzel told German periodical "Bild" that her husband died "suddenly" after suffering from a violent coughing fit in the morning. According to "Bild," the cause of death was likely a stroke or heart attack.

Born in 1946, Mentzel grew up in East Berlin and was trained as a craftsman.

In 1973, the entertainer - who had played in several obscure musical groups - moved to West Berlin for a few months, but returned to East Germany. He spent 10 months in jail for "fleeing the republic."

Mentzel received his own show in 1989 entitled "Achim's Hit Parade" in East Germany. Following reunification, he continued to be broadcast on German television.

"Achim Mentzel was a cult figure. As a versatile artist, he was very popular," said Brandenburg state premier Dietmar Woidke.

German satirist Oliver Kalkofe, a fellow entertainer inspired by Mentzel's work, took to social media to pay his condolences.

"Crying, I have no words…Thanks for everything," wrote Kalkofe on Twitter.

Mentzel is survived by his wife Brigitte and several children.

ls/cmk (dpa)