Hardy Krüger, 'A Bridge Too Far' Actor, Dies at 93
Hardy Krüger, a German-born actor whose childhood in a Nazi household led him to become a lifelong voice against far-right extremism, died at 93 at his Palm Springs, California, home on January 19.
Born in 1928 in Berlin, he grew up in a household where he was "raised to love Hitler." He even had his first acting experience in a Nazi propaganda film in 1944, "The Young Eagles." He served in the German army in WWII, but was condemned to die for his refusal to kill American captives. Another officer interceded, saving his life.
After the war, he began his acting career in earnest, including a role in the German-language version of Otto Preminger's controversial "The Moon Is Blue" in 1953.
He starred in the British film "The One That Got Away" (1957), the French film "Sundays and Cybèle" (1962), an Oscar winner, and in both "Hatari!" (1962) and "The Flight of the Phoenix" (1965).
After shooting "Hatari!" in East Africa, he built a farm, an animal preserve, and a small hotel to accommodate tourists.
Emigrating to the U.S., he appeared in "Barry Lyndon" (1975) for Stanley Kubrick, "A Bridge Too Far" (1977), and "The Wild Geese" (1978).
Interviewed on the set of the 1969 Stanley Kramer film "The Secret of Santa Vittoria," he said of his character's villainous quality, "I'm not so sure whether he is sympathetic or not. It's only the uniform he wears and the mission he has to fulill... You forget about uniforms and things, you just think about mentality and situations you are in." The comment spoke to his desire to play, as The New York Times phrased it, "the new, good German" in the wake of WWII.
Married three times, Krüger is survived by his wife Anita and by three children, including his look-alike son, actor Hardy Krüger Jr.