Hardy Kruger, the German-born actor who had a long career in Hollywood in films like “A Bridge Too Far” and “The Flight of the Phoenix,” died Wednesday at age 93, his literary agent told the Associated Press.
Born in Berlin to ardent Nazis, he turned against Hitler’s regime while a teenage soldier. After deserting, he was captured by the Allies and spent some time in a POW camp. Following the war, he returned to acting — first in Germany, and then elsewhere in Europe.
His first big break came in British director Roy Baker’s 1957 film in “The One That Got Away,” in which he played ace German pilot Franz von Werra who was captured by the Allies but managed to escape after a series of daring attempts. Five years later, he played a Vietnam veteran in the French drama “Sundays and Cybèle,” which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.
Soon, he found steady work in Hollywood, where his blond hair and blue eyes led him to be cast most often as a German soldier.
He starred opposite John Wayne in Howard Hawks’ safari movie “Hatari!” (1962), James Stewart and Peter Finch in “The Flight of the Phoenix” (1965), Ryan O’Neal in Stanley Kubrick’s period drama “Barry Lyndon” (1975) and Laurence Oliver in Richard Attenborough’s “A Bridge Too Far” (1977).
“After World War II he was one of the first German actors to gain international recognition,” Claudia Roth, Germany’s culture minister, said in a statement. “Hardy Kruger’s power as an artist and his clear stance against right-wing violence will be missed,” she said.