Born in Amersfoort, Netherlands, Heesters very early in his career specialized in Viennese operetta, making his Viennese stage debut in 1934 in Karl Millöcker's Der Bettelstudent (The Beggar Student). Over the decades, "Da geh' ich ins Maxim", Count Danilo Danilovitch's entrance song from Franz Lehar's Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) -- Danilo has spent most of the night drinking at Maxim's and flirting with women -- has become Heesters's signature tune. More operettas followed, many of which were also made into musical films.
Heesters worked extensively for UFA till almost the end of the Second World War (his last wartime movie being Die Fledermaus, produced in 1945) and easily made the transition from the Nazi-controlled cultural scene to post-war Germany and Austria, appearing again in a number of films already in the late 1940s. He stopped making movies around 1960 though to concentrate on stage and television appearances and on producing recordss.
In the 1990s he and his wife toured Germany and Austria with Curt Flatow's play Ein gesegnetes Alter (A Blessed Age), which was also televised in 1996. In September and October of 2003 Heesters appeared in the Komödie im Marquardt in Stuttgart in a show commissioned on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Heesters - eine musikalische Hommage.