Curd Jürgens

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

(1915-12-13)13 December 1915
Died18 June 1982(1982-06-18) (aged 66)
Vienna, Austria
Years active1935–1982
Height1.92 m (6 ft 4 in)
  • Lulu Basler
    (m. 1938;div. 1947)
  • (m. 1947;div. 1955)
  • (m. 1955;div. 1956)
  • Simone Bicheron
    (m. 1958;div. 1977)
  • Margie Schmitz
    (m. 1978)
Awards Volpi 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 best known English-language roles were as Wehrmacht general Günther Blumentritt in The Longest Day and as James Bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me .


Early life

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 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". [3] Jürgens became an Austrian citizen after the war.


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).

Jurgens' grave in the Vienna Central Cemetery Curd Jurgens Grab Zentralfriedhof.jpg
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. [4]

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, e.g. Bankraub in der Rue Latour , and wrote screenplays, e.g. Bonus on Death .

He titled his 1976 autobiography ... und kein bißchen weise (And not a Bit Wise). [6]

Jürgens also 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

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. 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. Jürgens was interred in the Vienna Central Cemetery.

He was 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] In summer 1957 Jürgens had a short but intensive affair with actress Romy Schneider. [9]

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) [10]
  4. Simone Bicheron (14 September 1958 – 1977) (divorced)
  5. Margie Schmitz (21 March 1978 – 18 June 1982) (his death)

Partial filmography

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  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. Karney, Robyn (1984). The Movie Stars Story. Outlet.
  4. The Great Indoors by Irene Kamp, Eugene O'Neill Theatre, January 17 – February 5, 1966, Playbill
  5. Die Entführung aus dem Serail, 9 March 1981, Vienna State Opera
  6. Jürgens, Curd. ... und kein bißchen 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.
  10. "Eva Bartok, 72, Actress in Films of 50's and 60's" (obituary), Associated Press in The New York Times , 5 August 1998