As a teen, I was mesmerized by the show "Rat Patrol." Well, it wasn't so much the show as much an actor who portrayed the German commandant Hans Dietrich. Eric Braeden accumulated many TV and film credits during his first two decades in America, and he had 120 guest-starring roles. His earliest credits were all under his birth name, Hans Gudegast. He was in many TV series and films. He was told by a studio exec he would never get much work with having a German-sounding name. A proud man, he resisted but eventually took on the name of Eric Braeden. His last name came from the German town where he was born and where his father was mayor.
This week, the actor celebrates 40 years playing Victor Newman on "The Young and the Restless." The role was only supposed to last a week. His character was holding his wife's boyfriend in a cage, Bill Bell, the show's executive producer and head writer, decided there was a lot more bad — and sometimes good — days for the character. Whatever treachery Victor caused, he was always forgiven because he loved his children.
A medal-winning boxer and triathlete, Braeden can and has been able to do things that might have destroyed others' careers. An example. He had it in his contract that he would get the last line or shot of a scene. One day, Peter Bergman (Jack) took the line. Braeden was so incensed that he stormed into Bergman's dressing room and socked him. Both actors were suspended for two weeks. They continue to play frenemies on the show. Their work together has given each daytime acting awards. Are they best buds? Probably not. But they are smart enough to know they need each other.
In 2009, Braeden unhappy with his new contract and said he was going to quit. A deal was worked out, and he is still there at 78 and is not going anywhere.
Interviewing him was wonderful, too. He answers the tough questions and is very open about his past. He still regrets not accepting his stepfather. His Twitter account is filled with opinions. If a viewer disses him or his character, he does not keep quiet.
His movie credits include "Titanic." His character drowned. Braeden is man enough to admit doing the scene terrified him.
He is a guy you want on your side. He has a strong view on what he considers right and wrong. When an actress on the show reported that another actor made inappropriate advances, an incensed Braeden went to the show's head honcho, and now the offending actor is gone. The young actress is still on the show.
One of Victor's favorite sayings is, "You got that?" in a do-not-mess-with-me tone. Braeden took much relish when he told the offending actor, "I see you got that."
To find out more about Lynda Hirsch and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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