Curd Jürgens

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Curt Jürgens
Schauspieler Curd Jürgens (Kiel 68 409).jpg
Curt Jürgens in 1976
Born
Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens

(1915-12-13)13 December 1915
Died18 June 1982(1982-06-18) (aged 66)
Vienna, Austria
NationalityAustrian
OccupationActor
Years active1935–1982
Height1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
Spouse(s)
  • Lulu Basler
    (m. 1938; div. 1947)
  • (m. 1947; div. 1955)
  • (m. 1955; div. 1956)
  • Simone Bicheron
    (m. 1958; div. 1977)
  • Margie Schmitz
    (m. 1978)
AwardsVolpi Cup for Best Actor
1955 Les héros sont fatigués

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. He was well known for playing Ernst Udet in Des Teufels General. His English-language roles include James Bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Éric Carradine in And God Created Woman (1956), and Professor Immanuel Rath in The Blue Angel (1959).

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] He had two elder twin sisters, Jeanette and Marguerite.[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. Due to the serious injuries that he had sustained in a car accident in the summer of 1933, he was unable to have children.[4]

Jürgens was critical of Nazism in his native Germany. In 1944, after filming Wiener Mädeln, he got into an argument with Robert Kaltenbrunner (brother of high-ranking Austrian SS official Ernst Kaltenbrunner), SS-Obersturmbannführer Otto Skorzeny and a member of Baldur von Schirach's staff in a Viennese bar without knowing who they were. After this event, Jürgens was sent to a labor camp for the "politically unreliable" in Hungary. After a few weeks he managed to escape and went into hiding.[2][5][6][7] Jürgens became an Austrian citizen after the war.

Career[edit]

Jürgens went on to play soldiers in many war films. Notable performances in this vein include his breakthrough screen role in Des Teufels General (1955, The Devil's General), a fictional portrayal of World War I flying ace and World War II Luftwaffe general Ernst Udet, followed by Roger Vadim's film Et Dieu... créa la femme (And God Created Woman) starring Brigitte Bardot.

Jürgens' first Hollywood film was The Enemy Below (1957), in which he portrayed a German U-boat commander. In 1962, he played the German general Günther Blumentritt in The Longest Day (1962). Later, in the James Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), he played the villain 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 (1981). In English-language television, he played Chancellor Otto von Bismarck in several episodes of the BBC series Fall of Eagles (1974) and appeared as General Vladimir in the BBC's Smiley's People (1982).

Jürgens' grave in the Vienna Central Cemetery

Although he appeared in over 100 films, Jürgens was also a notable stage actor. He was member of several theatres in Vienna (Volkstheater 1938–1941, Burgtheater 1940–1953 and 1965–1968, and others). He played the title role of Hugo von Hofmannsthal's play Jedermann at the Salzburg Festival from 1973 until 1977 – arguably the most high-profile role for a German-speaking male actor. In 1966 he appeared in a short run on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre opposite Geraldine Page, directed by George Schaefer.[8]

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.[9] He also directed a few films with limited success, e.g. Bankraub in der Rue Latour, and wrote screenplays, e.g. Bonus on Death.

He titled his 1976 memoir ... und kein bißchen weise (And Not At All Wise).[10][11]

Jürgens provided the German voice of the journalist in the 1980 German dub of Jeff Wayne's Musical Version of the War of the Worlds, or in German, "Jeff Wayne's Musik Version von Der Krieg der Welten".

Personal life[edit]

Jürgens maintained a home in France, but frequently returned to Vienna to perform on stage. He died there from a heart attack on 18 June 1982. He 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. Jürgens was interred in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

He was 1.92 metres (6 ft 4 in) tall.[12] Brigitte Bardot nicknamed him "the Norman Wardrobe" during their work for Et Dieu... créa la femme.[13]

In the summer of 1957 Jürgens had a short but intense affair with actress Romy Schneider.[14]

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 – 1956) (divorced)[15]
  4. Simone Bicheron (14 September 1958 – 1977) (divorced)
  5. Margie Schmitz (21 March 1978 – 18 June 1982) (his death)

Partial filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Curt Jurgens, War Films' Star". The New York Times. UPI. June 18, 1982. Archived from the original on 2013-06-21. Retrieved February 27, 2022.
  2. ^ a b Luce, William P. (27 July 1977). "The Man You'll Love to Hate". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-02-22. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  3. ^ "Childhood and Youth – Nachlass Curd Jürgens". Retrieved 2022-02-12.
  4. ^ Specht, Heike (2015). Curd Jürgens: General und Gentleman. Die Biographie (in German). Aufbau Digital. ISBN 9783841210302.
  5. ^ Zäuner, Günther. Wien – Wo Persönlichkeiten zu Hause waren (PDF) (in German). p. 69.
  6. ^ "Curd Jürgens 102" (in German). Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  7. ^ Karney, Robyn (1984). The Movie Stars Story. Crescent Books.
  8. ^ The Great Indoors by Irene Kamp, Eugene O'Neill Theatre, January 17 – February 5, 1966, Playbill
  9. ^ Die Entführung aus dem Serail, 9 March 1981, Vienna State Opera
  10. ^ Jürgens, Curd. ... und kein bißchen weise, Munich, Droemer Knaur (1976). ISBN 3-85886-054-9.
  11. ^ "Curd Jürgens". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2022-02-19.
  12. ^ 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
  13. ^ "Curd Jürgens im Porträt" (in German). Hubert Burda. Retrieved 8 May 2009.
  14. ^ Balfanz, Eckhard (10 June 2012). "Liebesbeweise: Romy Schneider liebte Curd Jürgens – für 2 Wochen". Die Welt.
  15. ^ "Eva Bartok, 72, Actress in Films of 50's and 60's" (obituary), AP in The New York Times, 5 August 1998

External links[edit]