Curd Jürgens

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Curd Jürgens
Curd Juergens by Günter Rittner 1980.jpg
Portrait by Günter Rittner, 1980
Born Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens
(1915-12-13)13 December 1915
Solln, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire
Died 18 June 1982(1982-06-18) (aged 66)
Vienna, Austria
Cause of death
Heart attack
Nationality Austrian
Occupation Actor
Years active 1935–1982
Spouse(s) Lulu Basler (1938–1947)
Judith Holzmeister (1947–1955)
Eva Bartok (1955–1956)
Simone Bicheron (1958–1977)
Margie Schmitz (1978–1982)
Awards Volpi Cup for Best Actor
1955 Les héros sont fatigués (fr)

Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens (13 December 1915 – 18 June 1982) was a German-Austrian stage and film actor. He was usually billed in English-speaking films as Curt Jurgens.

Early life[edit]

Jürgens was born on 13 December 1915 in the Munich borough of Solln, Kingdom of Bavaria, German Empire. His father, Kurt, was a trader from Hamburg, and his mother, Marie-Albertine, was a French teacher.[1][2][3] He began his working career as a journalist before becoming an actor at the urging of his actress wife, Louise Basler. He spent much of his early acting career on the stage in Vienna.

Jürgens was critical of National Socialism in his native Germany. In 1944, he was sent to an internment camp in Hungary as a "political unreliable".[4]

Jürgens became an Austrian citizen after the war.

Career[edit]

Like many multilingual German-speaking actors, Jürgens went on to play soldiers in innumerable war films. Notable performances in this vein include a meditative officer in the epic The Longest Day. His breakthrough screen role came in Des Teufels General (1955, The Devil's General) and he came to Hollywood following his appearance in the sensational 1956 Roger Vadim directed French film Et Dieu... créa la femme (And God Created Woman) starring Brigitte Bardot. In 1957, Jürgens made his first Hollywood film, The Enemy Below, where he portrayed a German U-boat commander. Jürgens became an international film star. He eventually gained the role of the villain in Roger Moore's favourite James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, as Karl Stromberg, a sociopathic industrialist seeking to transform the world into an ocean paradise. His last film appearance was as Maître Legraine, beside Alain Delon and Claude Jade in the spy-thriller Teheran 43 in 1981. He played Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in several episodes of the 1974 BBC TV series Fall of Eagles. He appeared as General Vladimir in the BBC TV series Smiley's People in 1982.

Jürgens' grave in the Zentralfriedhof

Although he appeared in over 100 films, Jürgens considered himself primarily a stage actor. His last stage appearance was with the Vienna State Opera on 9 March 1981 as Bassa Selim in Mozart's opera Die Entführung aus dem Serail.[5] He also directed a few films with limited success, and wrote screenplays.

Showing his sense of humour, he titled his 1976 autobiography … und kein bißchen weise (And not a Bit Wise).[6]

Personal life[edit]

Jürgens maintained a home in France, but frequently returned to Vienna to perform on stage and that was where he died of a heart attack on 18 June 1982. He was interred in the city's Zentralfriedhof. Jürgens had suffered a heart attack several years before. During this he had a near-death experience where he claimed he died and went to Hell.

He was a tall man, standing 1.92 metres (6 ft 4 in) tall.[7] Brigitte Bardot nicknamed him "the Norman Wardrobe" during their work for Et Dieu… créa la femme.[8]

Jürgens was married to:

  1. Lulu Basler, actress (15 June 1937 – 8 October 1947) (divorced)
  2. Judith Holzmeister (16 October 1947–1955) (divorced)
  3. Eva Bartok (13 August 1955–1957) (divorced)
  4. Simone Bicheron (14 September 1958–1977) (divorced)
  5. Margie Schmitz (21 March 1978 – 18 June 1982) (till his death)

Partial filmography[edit]

Curd Jürgens and his wife Simone with Chancellor Willy Brandt in June 1971

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Curt Jurgens, War Films' Star" (Free Preview) The New York Times (subscription required)
  2. ^ "The Man You'll Love to Hate" (Free Preview) The New York Times (subscription required)
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ Karney, Robyn (1984). The Movie Stars Story. Outlet. 
  5. ^ Die Entführung aus dem Serail, 9 March 1981, Vienna State Opera
  6. ^ Jürgens, Curd. … und kein bißchem weise, Munich, Droemer Knaur (1976). ISBN 3-85886-054-9.
  7. ^ Sill, Oliver (1991). Zerbrochene Spiegel (in German). Walter de Gruyter. p. 227. ISBN 978-3-11-012697-6. Retrieved 8 May 2009.  quoting Holba et al. Reclams deutsches Filmlexikon, Stuttgart 1984, p. 181, ISBN 978-3-15-010329-6
  8. ^ "Curd Jürgens im Porträt" (in German). Hubert Burda. Retrieved 8 May 2009. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Curd Jürgens at Wikimedia Commons