COLOGNE, Germany -- German comedian, TV star and gay icon Dirk Bach was found dead in his hotel room Monday in Berlin. He was 51.
The cause of death was not immediately known, but a police spokesman said there was no evidence of foul play.
Self-trained, Bach started in the independent theater scene in his home city of Cologne before moving to television, where he became one of the most familiar and enduring faces on the small screen. The rotund actor and entertainer's national breakthrough came with the sitcom Lukas, on which he played a single dad who lives with his father and daughter. The show, which ran for five seasons, was hit with both audiences and critics. It was groundbreaking in German television in its depiction of homosexual characters and alternative lifestyles.
Other prominent roles including the Pepe on the German version of Sesame Street and, most recently, co-host of hit reality show I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
Bach used his immense popularity to raise awareness for many causes, particularly for the rights of gays and lesbians. One of the first openly gay German celebrities, he was an active fund raiser for AIDS charities and a prominent spokesman for equal rights legislation.
At the time of his death, Bach was in rehearsals for a theater production in Berlin.