AKA Hans Jörg Gudegast
Birthplace: Kiel, Germany
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: The Young and the Restless
Eric Braeden has played the sinister millionaire Victor Newman on The Young & the Restless since 1980. He has been nominated for Daytime Emmys seven times, and won the statuette in 1998.
Eric Braeden was born in Nazi Germany, where his father was a minor Nazi politician, the mayor of the port town of Bredenbek. Braeden emigrated to America as soon as he could leave home. He lived briefly in Texas, where he worked in a medical lab, then Montana, where he worked as a cowboy, before settling in Southern California, where he earned his living playing semi-pro soccer. He made his film debut in 1961, playing a Nazi in Operation Eichmann. He then played a succession of vaguely European heavies on numerous TV shows, and in the mid-1960s he played Nazi Capt. Hans Dietrich, in The Rat Patrol, a prime time action show.
All the above he accomplished under his birth name, Hans Gudegast, but when he was offered the lead in a major motion picture, the producers pressured him to change his name to something a little less German. As Eric Braeden, he became the first German citizen to play an American in a post-war American film, and the film was Colossus: The Forbin Project, now a recognized classic of the computers-take-over-the-world genre. In other well-remembered roles, Braeden played a Nazi chasing Doug McClure in Death Race, a psychotic ape-killer in Escape from the Planet of the Apes, a pompous TV critic who took a pie on the face on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and a passenger in James Cameron's Titanic.
Braeden says that when he was a child, Germany's recent history simply was not taught in school, and was rarely discussed at home. He was only 12 when his father died, and remembers him as "a warm, gentle man who I'm sure had his doubts about the period." He says he did not understand the enormity of German war crimes until he bought a ticket to see the documentary After Mein Kampf as preparation for his role in Operation Eichmann. He later became what he calls "an activist for Israel", and says he views the Jewish state as a small atonement for the Holocaust. In a 2004 visit to Jerusalem to promote tourism there, Braeden was a block away when a suicide bomber blew up a bus.
Braeden has dual citizenship in Germany and America. His son, Christian Gudegast, is a Hollywood screenwriter, most notably given half the credit for A Man Apart.
Wife: Dale Russell (college sweetheart, m. 1966, one son)
Son: Christian Gudegast (screenwiter)
University: Montana State University
University: Santa Monica College
Daytime Emmy 1998 for The Young and the Restless
Naturalized US Citizen
The Rat Patrol Capt. Hans Dietrich (1966-68)
The Young and the Restless Victor Newman (1980-)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Den of Thieves (18-Jan-2018)
The Man Who Came Back (8-Feb-2008) · Reese Paxton
Meet the Deedles (27-Mar-1998) · Elton Deedle
Titanic (1-Nov-1997) · John Jacob Astor
Lucky Chances (7-Oct-1990)
The Ambulance (30-Aug-1990)
The Aliens Are Coming (2-Mar-1980)
Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo (24-Jun-1977)
Death Scream (26-Sep-1975)
The Ultimate Thrill (Oct-1974)
Lady Ice (13-Jul-1973)
The Judge and Jake Wyler (2-Dec-1972)
Escape from the Planet of the Apes (21-May-1971) · Dr. Otto Hasslein
Colossus: The Forbin Project (8-Apr-1970)
100 Rifles (26-Mar-1969) · Von Klemme
Dayton's Devils (2-Oct-1968)
Operation Eichmann (15-Mar-1961)
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