Diffring in The Beast Must Die (1974)
20 October 1918
|Died||20 May 1989
Châteauneuf de Grasse, France
|Cause of death||Unknown (either AIDS or cancer)|
|Other names||Anton de Vient|
Diffring (born Anton de Vient or Alfred Pollack) was born in Koblenz. He studied acting in Berlin and Vienna but there is some conjecture about when he left Germany prior to World War II. The audio commentary for the Doctor Who series Silver Nemesis mentions he left Germany in 1936, as he was not enamored of fascism and further that he was a homosexual. Other accounts point to him leaving Germany in 1939 and heading for Canada where he was interned in 1940. Though he made two fleeting, unaccredited appearances in films in 1940, it was not until 1950, after a move to Britain, that his acting career began to take off.
With numerous British war films being produced in the 1950s, Diffring's blonde hair, blue eyes and the chiseled features saw him feature often as villainous German officers - such as in Albert R.N. (1953) and The Colditz Story (1955). Some of his more notable roles as German characters were in The Heroes of Telemark (1965), The Blue Max (1966), Where Eagles Dare (1968), Operation Daybreak (1975) (as SS officer Reinhard Heydrich) and the match commentator in Escape to Victory (1981). In 1983 he played Hitler's foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in the American mini-series The Winds of War.
He also starred in a number of horror films, such as The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959) and Circus of Horrors (1960). He also worked in quite a number of international films, such as Fahrenheit 451 (1966) directed by François Truffaut.
His final performance was again as a Nazi character, for the BBC in the 1988 Doctor Who serial Silver Nemesis, in which he agreed to appear because the recording coincided with the Wimbledon Championships which he wanted to watch. Working up to his death, he died in his home at Châteauneuf-Grasse in the south of France in 1989.
Cause of death
No official statement has been produced as to the cause of his death.
However, according to a 2002 Terrorverlag interview, German actor Arthur Brauss suggested that Diffring had died of AIDS. However, in her web-biography of Diffring, Susan Edwards indicates that he died of cancer.
Selected television appearances
- Car Along The Pass .... opening episode of The Galton & Simpson Playhouse (1 episode, 1977)
- Flambards .... Mr. Dermot (5 episodes, 1979)
- Der Alte .... Leo Steglitz (1 episode, 1980)
- Arsène Lupin joue et perd (1980) TV mini-series .... Guillaume II
- Ein Winter auf Mallorca (1982) (TV) .... Konsul Fleury
- The Winds of War .... Joachim von Ribbentrop (4 episodes, 1983)
- Der Besuch (1984) (TV) .... Crozier
- Weltuntergang (1984) (TV)
- Opération O.P.E.N. .... Beejlab (1 episode, 1984)
- The Masks of Death (1984) (TV) .... Graf Udo Von Felseck of Purbridge Manor
- Messieurs les jurés .... Karl Düren (1 episode, 1985)
- Jane Horney (1985) TV mini-series .... Adm. Wilhelm Canaris
- Derrick .... Alfred Bandera / ... (3 episodes, 1981–1987)
- Doctor Who serial "Silver Nemesis" .... De Flores (3 episodes, 1988)
- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8613634 Find-a-Grave Biography of Anton Diffring. 20 Jan 2012
- http://www.terrorverlag.de/events/brauss/index.htm Thurau, Karsten. "Interview mit Arthur Brauss vom 27.01.2002". Terrorverlag Alternative Music Webzine. 29 Aug 2010
- http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=8613634 Find-a-Grave Biography of Anton Diffring. 8 APR 2004
- Brian McFarlane, The Encyclopedia of British Film, Methuen, 2003.