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Eric Braeden (born Hans Jörg Gudegast; April 3, 1941) is a German-American film and television actor, best known for his role as Victor Newman on the soap opera The Young and the Restless, as Hans Dietrich in the 1960s TV series The Rat Patrol, and as John Jacob Astor IV in the 1997 film Titanic. Braeden won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1998 for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for the role of Victor Newman.
Braeden was born Hans Jörg Gudegast in Bredenbek, Germany (near Kiel),where his father was once mayor. He immigrated to the USA in 1959. In the United States, Braeden attended The University of Montana in Missoula.
Braeden accumulated many TV and film credits during his first two decades in America. In 1966 he guest-starred (credited as Hans Gudegast) as Luftwaffe Major Bentz in the second season episode 28, "Day of Reckoning" of Twelve O'Clock High (TV series). He is most notably known for his role as the German Hauptmann (Captain) Hans Dietrich on the TV series The Rat Patrol (1966–1968)
In the 1970s he took a supporting role in the 1971 film Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Throughout the 1970s, he guest-starred in a variety of television shows including The Six Million Dollar Man, Wonder Woman, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show and also appeared in several episodes of the long-running CBS western series Gunsmoke. In 1977 he appeared in Walt Disney's Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo as the arrogant but formidable race car driver, Bruno von Stickle. He also appeared, uncredited, as Bradford Dillman's de facto stunt double in the 1978 film Piranha--Braeden had originally been cast to play Dillman's character, Paul Grogan, and had shot some underwater swimming footage before the role was recast; Braeden's stunt footage ended up in the finished film anyway.
In 1980, he was offered the role of self-made magnate Victor Newman on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless for a 26-week run. His character imprisoned his wife's lover, and became so popular the character became a love-to-hate villain, and his contract was renewed. Still on the show today, Braeden won a Daytime Emmy for his work in 1998.
In late December 1991, Braeden and actor Peter Bergman had a physical altercation backstage. According to press reports, after exchanging bitter words on the set, Braeden showed up at Bergman's dressing room door to further discuss the matter and violence ensued. Y&R's creator and senior executive producer William J. Bell threatened to fire them both if it ever happened again. Since then, the actors have resolved their differences and now have a cordial relationship.
In 1997, he played Colonel John Jacob Astor IV in the blockbuster film Titanic, cast because he strongly resembled the powerful millionaire.[
Braeden announced on October 18, 2009, in an article by Dan J. Kroll that after almost 30 years on The Young and the Restless, he was leaving the show. "We reached an impasse in the negotiations"
On December 17, 2010, Neil Patrick Harris announced via Twitter that Braeden would not be reprising his role on How I Met Your Mother. In his tweet, Harris called Braeden a "D-Bag" for deciding on very short notice not to film a scheduled cameo for the program. Harris claimed that Braeden said the role was not substantial enough for Braeden to appear.The part was recast with Ray Wise.
Braeden is regarded as a very good tennis player. He and his wife, Dale Gudegast, were witnesses at the wedding of Bob Crane and Sigrid Valdis while on the set of Hogan's Heroes. Their son, Christian Gudegast, is a screenwriter who co-wrote the film A Man Apart, which starred Vin Diesel and was nominated for a Teen Choice Award in 2003.
Actor Clarence Williams III and former boxer Ken Norton are two of his best friends.
Braeden won a Daytime Emmy Award in 1998 for Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on The Young and the Restless.On July 20, 2007, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.Braeden received the Gilmore Award from the Pacific Pioneers, a radio and television industry group, in 2007.
Daytime Emmys -Winner, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1998)
Daytime Emmys Nomination, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (1987, 1990, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2004)
Daytime Emmys Pre-Nomination, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (2004, 2005, 2008)
18th Annual People's Choice Award for Most Popular Daytime Actor
Distinguished German-American of the Year 1990
He received the 2009 Friend of German Award from the American Association of Teachers of German.