13 July, 2008

Curd Jurgens

Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Franz Jürgens was a German-Austrian stage and motion-picture actor. He was usually billed in English-speaking films as Curt Jurgens.

Jürgens was born in the Munich neighborhood of Solln, Bavaria, Germany. His father was a trader from Hamburg and his mother a French teacher. 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. Critical of the Nazis in his native Germany, in 1944 he was shipped to a concentration camp as a "political unreliable." Jürgens survived and after the war, became an Austrian citizen.

Like many multilingual German-speaking actors, Jürgens went on to play soldiers in innumerable war movies. 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. Jürgens became an international film star. He eventually gained the role of the villain in Roger Moore's favorite James Bond film in The Spy Who Loved Me as Karl Stromberg, a sociopath 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 Soviet spy-thriller Teheran 43 in 1981. He appeared as General Vladimir in the BBC TV series Smiley's People in 1982.

Although he appeared in over 100 films, Jürgens considered himself primarily a stage actor. He also directed a few films with limited success, and wrote screenplays.

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 in 1982. He was interred in the city's Zentralfriedhof. Jürgens had suffered another heart attack several years before.


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