Actor Hasselhoff presents audio book “Up against the Wall – Mission Mauerfall” in Berlin. Picture: Reuters

Berlin – David Hasselhoff has been famous for decades, ever since he beefcaked through four seasons with a talking Trans Am on “Knight Rider” and served as the bare-chested voice of reason on “Baywatch” alongside a slew of swimsuited Playmates posing as lifeguards. 

Those shows were so popular in the 1980s and ’90s, when weekly audience estimates reached 1.1 billion worldwide, that Hasselhoff still holds the Guinness World Record for “most watched man on television.”

But Berlin, for him, is about more than fame. Or, more specifically, it’s about a different kind of fame. It’s about a moment that cast a TV star with a piano scarf as an unexpected cultural ambassador.

On New Year’s Eve 1989, Hasselhoff hovered in a bucket crane over a crowd of thousands who had gathered to celebrate the collapse of the Berlin Wall. He had come there to sing his German pop hit, “Looking for Freedom.” He wasn’t expecting to become an enduring part of the city’s history.