Eric Braeden — A Biography

Born Hans-Jörg Gudegast on April 3, 1941, in Kiel, Braeden grew up in nearby Bredenbek, Germany. As a high school student-athlete, his wins in discus, javelin, and shot-put contributed to his team winning the National German Youth Championship.

Leaving his native Germany, Braeden emigrated to the US in 1959. He settled in Texas, where a cousin found him work as a translator. After a few months, he left for Montana, to work on the ranch of a fellow German ex-pat.

He earned a partial athletic scholarship to the University of Montana (then Montana State University) and worked part-time at a lumber mill. It was in Montana where Braeden met Bob McKinnon.

Not long after, McKinnon convinced him to join a sponsored motorboat trip up and down the treacherous Salmon River. The idea was to film a documentary of the journey and take it to California.

While Life magazine showed interest, the duo missed the publication’s deadline. They took their finished product, The Riverbusters, on the L.A. talk show circuit.

Braeden decided to remain in California and worked odd jobs at restaurants while studying Political Science at Santa Monica State, which is where he met and fell in love with his future wife. He began working in TV and film and a few years later, the professional became a full-fledged actor.

Braeden has more than 120 television series and film credits, including the Academy Award Winning Titanic helmed by James Cameron in the role of John Astor. Other credits include The Rat Patrol, 100 Rifles, Morituri, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Escape From the Planet Of The Apes, Operation Eichmann, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo, Meet The Deedles, and many others.

His numerous television credits include such classics as 77 Sunset Strip, The Rat Patrol, Combat!, Gunsmoke, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hawaii 5-0, Mission Impossible, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mission Impossible, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Perry Mason, Mannix, How The West Was Won, Lucky Chances, Diagnosis Murder, and much more.

Braeden executive-produced a classic western set in the 1870s, The Man Who Came Back, and starred opposite Billy Zane, George Kennedy, Armand Assante, Sean Young, and Carol Alt.

2017 was a big year for Eric Braeden. He was inducted into the German American Hall Of Fame and he became a best-selling author for his critically acclaimed autobiography, I’ll Be Damned.

Follow him on Instagram @ericbraedengudegast and on Twitter @EBraeden.

The Young and the Restless (YR) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Genoa City, check out all the latest that’s been posted on Y&R spoilers.

Fast Facts

  • Born Hans Gudegast in Kiel, Germany. 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.
  • In 1987, he was appointed, along with Henry Kissinger, Paul Volker, Steffi Graf, Alexander Haig, and Katherine Graham, to the German-American Advisory Board.
  • In 1991 received the Federal Medal of Honor from the president of his native land, Germany.
  • 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.