He was one of the few world stars among German actors: Hardy Krüger conquered Hollywood and celebrated international success.
He appeared on camera alongside colleagues such as James Stewart, John Wayne, Claudia Cardinale, Sean Connery, Yul Brynner, Charles Aznavour, Catherine Deneuve and Orson Welles.
The actor and writer died Wednesday at the age of 93 at his adopted home in California, his agency announced Thursday, citing his wife. He died suddenly and unexpectedly in Palm Springs. “His warmth of heart, his zest for life and his unwavering sense of justice will make him unforgettable,” he said.
Moving words by Hardy Krüger jr.
His son, Hardy Krüger Jr., expressed his sadness in moving words: “You hold your breath, the world stops (…). What remains is love”, he said. he writes Thursday on Instagram. “Here the final curtain has fallen on the world stage and the world bows before you, Father!” Life had given him rich gifts, he continued. “But what has shaped and inspired me the most is YOU! (…) Farewell my beloved father…»
Hardy Krüger, favorite in post-war Germany as the eternal sunshine boy in entertainment films, made his breakthrough outside of Germany in the British war film “One Came Through” (1957). He was in “Hatari!” alongside John Wayne. (1962), alongside James Stewart in Flight of the Phoenix (1965), with Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale in The Red Tent (1969). In the 1960s and 1970s in particular, he was in demand internationally and often played adventurers or sympathetic soldiers.
Traveling as a “globetrotter” for television
Born in Berlin and having lived for a long time in California and Hamburg, he played the lead role in around 75 films, including Helmut Käutner’s modern adaptation of Hamlet “Der Rest ist Schweigen” (1959) and the Oscar-winning French production ” Sonntage mit Sybille” (1962). Krüger, who owned a farm in Africa for several years, began his writing career with the book Eine Farm in Afrika (1970). On television, he created a classic as as “globe-trotter” in the ARD series of the same name.
At the age of 15, Krüger was discovered by Ufa director Alfred Weidenmann for the Nazi propaganda tape “Young Eagles”. As the son of parents enthusiastic about Hitler, he had attended the elite National Socialist boarding school in Sonthofen. Even in old age, he was active against racism and founded an anti-right initiative shortly before his 85th birthday.
Krüger, who received various awards such as the Federal Film Prize, also received the Grand Cross of Merit for lifetime achievement. He was also made a Knight of the French Legion of Honor.
After a long hiatus, he was seen again as a television actor in 2011, later he was no longer able to land the roles offered to him. But always traveling: “Travelling is my life”, he once said. Even in old age, Krüger, whose son Hardy and daughter Christiane also became actors, and his third wife Anita went to Africa. He had bought a farm in Tanzania in the 1960s, which he had transformed into a bush hotel, but without success.
Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called Krüger a “great artist” on Thursday. With Hardy Krüger, the country loses a great German actor as comfortable on stage as in front of the camera. “His work was characterized by a palpable passion for the subject, an incomparable capacity for change and an impressive power of expression.” Additionally, as an author and world traveler, he has brought people of other cultures together through his reporting. “We will keep Hardy Krüger in our memory,” Steinmeier continued.
State Minister for Culture Claudia Roth underlined Krüger’s “artistic power”. For decades he has bewitched millions as an actor, writer and world traveler, the Greens politician in Berlin has said. “Even as a cross-border worker and a convinced democrat, his admirable commitment against right-wing extremism will not be forgotten.”
For Hamburg culture senator Carsten Brodsa (SPD), Krüger was “one of the most important voices in post-war Germany”, as he put it on Twitter. “Hardy Krüger was not just a special actor, but a global, cosmopolitan star with an attitude that was committed to right-wing violence to the bitter end. Hamburg is in mourning.”
The ZDF television channel also mourned Krüger. It “combined popular entertainment with an international reputation like no other,” deputy program director Heike Hempel said on request. “With his great sympathy, he always managed to reach a wide audience. Hardy Kruger is a name adults today have learned since they were kids.”
Several TV stations on Thursday changed their schedule to honor Kruger. Arte broadcasts the documentary “The Hardy Krüger Story” at 8:15 p.m. It traces the traumatic youth and turbulent life of the freedom-loving actor. The first foresees on Friday evening at 12:15 a.m. the program “The world was my house”, ZDF at 1:10 a.m. a “ZDF story” on Krüger. (dpa)