Passed away this day 1982
Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me
With one of the longest birth names I have come across among the Bond alums thus far, Curd Gustav Andreas Gottlieb Jurgens, or Curd Jurgens, was born in Munich. The ravages of the First World War was two years on by the time Jurgens was born in the closing days of 1915. He began pursuing a career as a journalist, but his first wife encouraged him to pursue acting, which he did on the Vienna stage. However, his acting was derailed in 1944 when he found to be politically unreliable – he was critical of National Socialism – and sent to a Hungarian camp. After the war, he became an Austrian citizen.
In 1935, Jurgens was cast as Kaiser Franz Joseph von Osterreich in the UFA release of Konigswalzer (trans. The Royal Waltz). He went on to star in many war and spy genre films and televisions shows, such as The Enemy Below (1957) which had Jurgens starring opposite Robert Mitchum, The Longest Day (1962) starring John Wayne and Richard Burton, OSS 117 – Double Agent (1968), and Battle of Britain (1969) starring Michael Caine and Trevor Howard. He was Carl Von Kesser in a two-part episode on called ‘The Five Daughters Affair’ on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1967) and as The General in the tv mini series Smiley’s People (1982), which was Jurgens' last role.
Jurgens was nominated for a number of acting awards, earning three: German Film Awards’ Honorary Award (like the Academy Awards’ Lifetime Award) in 1981, Golden Camera’s Best German Actor for Collin (1981), which he shared with Hans Christian Blech, and Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor Volpi Cup for Les heros sont fatigues and Des Teufels General, both from 1955 and the latter being considered his breakout role. Jurgens tied with Kenneth More from The Deep Blue Sea (1955).
Although Jurgens had a successful prolific career on television and film, he gave more weight and significance to his stage performances. Jurgens was married five times and had a daughter with his third wife, Eva Bartok, who later said the father was actually Frank Sinatra. Jurgens wrote his autobiography and showing a bit of humor that we didn’t see The Spy Who Loved Me, he titled it And Not a Bit Wise (1976). He died of a heart attack at the age of 66 and was interred in Vienna.
Bond Trivia: He was the only actor to have played a main Bond villain opposite Sir Roger Moore to have died until Louis Jordan passed way earlier this year, in February.
Let’s take a look at a scene from The Spy Who Loved Me spotlighting Jurgens in his role of main Bond villain Karl Stromberg:
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