Curd Jürgens

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Curd Jurgens (better known as Curt Jurgens in America) was among the first German actors to achieve stardom in Hollywood in the post-World War II era. Born in Munich, his early adult aspirations were…
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Curd Jurgens (better known as Curt Jurgens in America) was among the first German actors to achieve stardom in Hollywood in the post-World War II era. Born in Munich, his early adult aspirations were confined to journalism until his first wife, herself a performer, persuaded him to try acting. From the mid-'30s onward, he enjoyed a seemingly promising career on stage and screen, until he was ordered arrested for his political views by German propaganda minister Dr. Joseph Goebbels, and was sent to a concentration camp late in the war. Jurgens survived and, following his release, took Austrian citizenship.

His film career resumed and achieved new prominence in 1955 with his work in the movie The Devil's General. He gave a star-making performance in 1957, as the dedicated but conscience-stricken U-boat commander playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with destroyer commander Robert Mitchum, in the 1957 war movie The Enemy Below. Jurgens was subsequently the star of a well-intended but ill-fated remake of The Blue Angel, taking on the role of the doomed teacher identified with Hollywood's earlier top German-speaking lead, Emil Jannings, but he fared rather better playing rocket scientist Werner Von Braun in the biographical film I Aim at the Stars.

He worked in international productions, including one James Bond movie, over the next two decades and occasionally got involved with musical works, principally a speaking role in the film of Kurt Weill's Threepenny Opera. He was also recruited to narrate the German-language edition of Jeff Wayne's late-'70s concept album The War of the Worlds, replacing Richard Burton's narrator from the English version on the German-CBS release Der Kriege der Welten, featuring Justin Hayward, Phil Lynott, David Essex, et al.