German-born Hans Gudegast was still in his teens when he made his first film appearance in The Colossus of Rhodes (1957). Spending virtually his entire career in Hollywood, Gudegast achieved TV fame as the eternally outflanked Afrika Korps officer Hauptman on the weekly TV series The Rat Patrol (1967-1969). Sensing that he'd forever be typecast as a Nazi under his given name, Gudegast changed his professional cognomen to Eric Braeden in 1970 (he reportedly borrowed the name of his home town in Germany, though some sources indicate that he was actually born in Kiel). The actor's instincts were correct: under his new professional name, Braeden was afforded the opportunity to demonstrate his versatility as both leading man -- he was Charles Forbin in Colossus: The Forbin Project -- and villain. He was often called upon to convey insufferable arrogance, vide his memorable appearance as a media critic on an episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (that's the one where Braeden received a pie in the face, courtesy of Ted Knight). Eric Braeden's best-known characterization was as the smoothly sinister Victor Newman in the CBS daytime drama The Young and the Restless. Braeden played a small role as the wealthy John Jacob Astor in 1997's mega-hit Titanic, and co-starred in the comedy Meet the Deedles the following year. Following a long run on The Young and the Restless, Braeden co-starred with fellow Titanic alumni Billy Zane in The Man Who Came Back (2008), and took on the role of Robin Scherbatsky, Sr. for the television series How I Met Your Mother.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- His Americanized stage name was derived from the German town where he grew up, Bredenbek.
- Played on a 1972-73 Los Angeles-based semi-pro soccer team.
- Landed roles as Germans in a number of World War II series and movies, including Captain Dietrich in ABC's The Rat Patrol.
- Portrayed millionaire John Jacob Astor in James Cameron's Titanic.
- Had multiple Daytime Emmy nominations for his work as Victor Newman on The Young and the Restless and won in 1998.
- Received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2007.
- Got into a minor Twitter war of words with Neil Patrick Harris in 2010 after Harris bashed Braeden about pulling out of a role on How I Met Your Mother.