Birthday: February 25, 1913
Died At Age: 75
Sun Sign: Pisces
Also Known As: Karl Gerhart Fröbe
Born Country: Germany
Born in: Oberplanitz, Zwickau, Germany
Famous as: Actor
Height: 6'1" (185 cm), 6'1" Males
Spouse/Ex-: Karin Kuderer-Pistoriusm (1970), Beate Bachm (1962–1968), Clara Peter (1937–1953), Clara Peterm (1937–1953), Hannelore Görtzm ( 1953–1959), Karin Kuderer-Pistoriusm (1970–1988), Tatjana Iwanowm ( 1959–1962)
father: Karl-Otto Fröbe
mother: Alma Fröbe
children: Andreas Seyferth, Beate Fröbe, Utz Fröbe
Died on: September 5, 1988
place of death: Munich, Bavaria, West Germany
Cause of Death: Heart Attack
Karl Gerhart Fröbe, famously known as Gert Fröbe was a German film and stage actor who worked in around 100 films - mostly German, English and French – from 1948 to 1988. He gained massive worldwide recognition for his portrayal of the diabolical character of ‘Auric Goldfinger’ in the James Bond movie ‘Goldfinger’. The character was much appreciated and is deemed one of the best villains in the James Bond series. During his early life he was associated with the Nazi party but eventually left it in 1937 after around nine years. During the Second World War, he was drafted into the army and continued to serve till the time the war was over.
Childhood & Early Life
Gert Fröbe was born on February 25th 1913 in Oberplanitz (now Zwickau), Saxony, Germany to a shoemaker, Otto Johannes Fröbe and his wife, Alma.
At a young age of 16, he joined the Nazi Party with the hope that "Hitler could bring a solution". However, his expectations were not met and he ended up leaving the party in 1937.
He studied theatre in the 1930s.
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In the years preceding the Second World War, Gert Fröbe worked as violinist and later as a set designer and actor in German theatre.
In 1944, the German theatres were shut down by the Nazis and he was drafted into the army. He worked as a medical orderly in Red Cross in Vienna.
After the end of World War II, he began to work as a welder because being a part of the Nazi party, he was prohibited from acting under the de-Nazification rules introduced by the winners of the war.
In 1948, Gert Fröbe made his film debut with ‘Berliner Ballade’ (The Ballad of Berlin) where he played the role of "Otto Normalverbraucher". The movie, which bagged an award at the 10th Venice International Film Festival in 1949 and was also nominated for the BAFTA in 1950, brought him a lot of recognition.
For around a decade, he featured in numerous German films and occasional French and English productions. His movies include German comedy ‘Der Tag vor der Hochzeit’ (1952) and the French film, ‘He Who Must Die’ (1957).
His performance as serial killer of children in the 1958 Swiss-German movie, ‘Es geschah am hellichten Tag’ (It Happened in Broad Daylight) grabbed the attention of the makers of James Bond movie, ‘Goldfinger’, and Gert Fröbe landed the most memorable role of his career.
The movie, third in the James Bond series, was released in 1964 and had Gert Fröbe playing the titular role of a greedy and megalomaniac, ‘Auric Goldfinger’.
In the following years, he worked in numerous English language movies including ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’, ‘Is Paris Burning?’, ‘Triple Cross’, ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’, ‘The Longest Day’, ‘Monte Carlo or Bust’ and ‘$’(Dollars).
His last acting stint was in a 13-episode German television series, ‘The Little Vampire’, where he essayed the role of Detective Gurrmeyer. The series aired in 1986–1987.
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Apart from acting in movies, Gert Fröbe also tried his hand at doing a bit of commercials. He worked in Mercedes Benz W123 commercials promoting the coupé and the sedan.
He was adept at reciting lyrical poetry, most notably of Christian Morgenstern and Joachim Ringelnatz.
Though Gert Fröbe was already an established actor in Germany, his big success with Western audience came with ‘Goldfinger’. In the movie, he played the villainous character of ‘Goldfinger’ who hatches a plan to irradiate the largest gold repository of the USA and make it useless for more than half a century thereby increasing the value of his own gold stock.
Fröbe’s portrayal of the character was widely appreciated by the Western movie goers. Years later, the character still generates appreciation. In a poll conducted by IMDb, ‘Auric Goldfinger’ topped the list of most sinister villain in any James Bond movie.
In 2003, the American Film Institute, in its list of 100 Heroes & Villains, included the character of ‘Auric Goldfinger’ in the list of 50 villain. The list was presented as a part of AFI’s 100 Years... series (1998-2008) that celebrated 100 years of greatest films in the American Cinema.
Awards & Achievements
In the 1959 German Film Critics Association Awards, Gerf Fröbe was declared the winner in the Best actor category for his role in ‘Es geschah am hellichten Tag’.
In 1961, he won a couple of awards for his performance in the German movie, ‘Der Gauner und der liebe Gott’ (Crook and the Cross). These include the Ernst Lubitsch Award and the San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for best actor.
In 1978, his contribution to the German films was recognised when he received an Honorary Award in the German Film Awards.
In 1984, he was given the Best German Actor award by Golden Camera, Germany for his performance in TV movie, ‘Der Garten’ (1983) and ‘August der Starke’ (1984).
Family & Personal Life
Gert Fröbe married five times. His first three marriages: with Clara Peters (1937-1953), Hannelore Görtz (1953 - 1959) and Tatjana Iwanow (1959-1962) ended in a divorce. His fourth marriage with Beate Bach in 1962 ended when the latter expired in 1968. His fifth marriage to Karin Fröbe in 1970 lasted till the time of his demise in 1988.
He had a son – Utz - from his first marriage. He adopted his third wife’s son - Andreas Seyferth – in 1959 and his last wife’s daughter – Beate Fröbe in 1978.
Gert Fröbe passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 75 in a Munich hospital in 1988. He was buried at Waldfriedof cemetery in Icking.
Interestingly, because of his thick German accent, his voice in ‘Goldfinger’ was dubbed by a British actor Michael Collins. Also, because of his portrayal as an evil and merciless character in ‘Goldfinger’, he was later perceived as a man without laughs. In reality, though, he was very jovial personality.
In Israel, the movie was banned initially because of Fröbe’s past association with the Nazis. It was only after a Jew, Mario Blumenau approached the Israeli Embassy in Vienna and revealed that Gert Fröbe had actually saved his life along with his mother’s by hiding them from the Nazis, that the movie was released.