Actor Hardy Kruger, star of adventure movies, dies
BERLIN » Hardy Kruger, considered one of post-war Germany’s best actors, has died. He was 93.
His Hamburg-based literary agent, Peter Kaefferlein, said Thursday that Kruger died “suddenly and unexpectedly” Wednesday in California, where he lived with his third wife, American-born writer Anita Park.
Kruger starred in the 1957 British movie “The One That Got Away” about a captured German fighter pilot who stages a series of daring attempts to escape the Allies and, as the title suggests, finally succeeds.
His charm, good looks and the fact that he deserted from the Nazi army toward the end of World War II helped Kruger land further roles at a time when Germans of his generation were still eyed with suspicion abroad.
Kruger appeared in a string of English-language adventure and war movies, including “Barry Lyndon” (1975), “A Bridge too Far” (1977) and “The Wild Geese” (1978).
In later years, he focused on making travel films for German television, writing books and the occasional stage performance.
Franz Eberhard August Krueger was born April 12, 1928, in Berlin.
Initially, he wanted to follow in the footsteps of his engineer father, but while at an elite Nazi boarding school he appeared in the 1944 film “Junge Adler.”
While it was intended as a propaganda movie, Kruger’s encounter with older actors on the set opened his eyes to the horrors of Adolf Hitler’s dictatorship.
As the war turned against Germany, Kruger’s Hitler Youth unit was drafted into the newly formed SS division “Nibelungen.”
Kruger, who was 16 at the time, found himself fighting experienced American troops in southern Germany.
In a 2006 interview with German daily Bild, he recounted how he and his school friends were sent to the front “as cannon fodder” in Hitler’s futile attempt to halt the Allies’ advance.
“I knew the war was lost,” he told the newspaper.
Kruger deserted, was captured by the Allies and spent some time as a POW. After the war, he returned to acting, first in theaters and then in Germany’s re-emerging movie industry.