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A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Krüger has died aged 93: actor dies in California

Actor Hardy Kruger has died at the age of 93.

The actor, known for his roles in A Bridge Too Far, The Flight of the Phoenix and The Wild Geese, died Thursday at his home in California.

In a tribute from Kruger’s agency, Krüger’s family praised his “heart of the heart” and “steadfast sense of justice,” after he became one of the few German actors to become known worldwide for his roles.

Tragic news: Actor Hardy Krüger has died aged 93 (pictured in 2015)

Tragic news: Actor Hardy Krüger has died aged 93 (pictured in 2015)

The statement said: “His warmth of heart, joie de vivre and his unwavering sense of justice will make him unforgettable.”

Krüger had a leading role in 75 films over a 40-year career, and famously appeared in the epic war film A Bridge too Far, with a star-studded cast including James Caan, Michael Caine and Sean Connery.

He took on the role of Generalmajor der Waffen-SS Karl Ludwig in the film that focused on the failed World War II Operation Market Garden, in which European allies attempted to create an invasion route into northern Germany.

Sad: The actor, known for his roles in A Bridge Too Far (pictured), The Flight of the Phoenix and Wild Geese, died Thursday at his home in California

Sad: The actor, known for his roles in A Bridge Too Far (pictured), The Flight of the Phoenix and Wild Geese, died Thursday at his home in California

Sad: The actor, known for his roles in A Bridge Too Far (pictured), The Flight of the Phoenix and Wild Geese, died Thursday at his home in California

1642674866 540 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

1642674866 540 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

Iconic: In a statement issued by Krüger’s agency in tribute, Kruger’s family praised his “warmth of the heart” and “unshakable sense of justice” (depicted in the 1971 Soviet film The Red Tent)

Acclaimed: Hardy began his acting career when he was 15 and rose to fame with worldwide audiences when he starred in The One That Got Away in 1957 (pictured)

Acclaimed: Hardy began his acting career when he was 15 and rose to fame with worldwide audiences when he starred in The One That Got Away in 1957 (pictured)

Acclaimed: Hardy began his acting career when he was 15 and rose to fame with worldwide audiences when he starred in The One That Got Away in 1957 (pictured)

Born in Berlin in 1928, Krüger’s father, an engineer, was a supporter of Adolf Hitler and an early member of the Nazi Party.

He made his acting debut in the German film The Young Eagles, but his career was interrupted when in 1944, when he was 16, he was drafted into the German Wehrmacht – one of the Nazi armed forces.

He went to fight for the 38th SS Division Nibelungen, but when ordered to ambush a group of American soldiers, he refused and was nearly executed after being sentenced to death for cowardice, before another SS soldier. officer overturned the ruling.

Krüger eventually escaped and hid in Italy until the end of the war in Tyrol, often speaking out against extremism and for democracy.

Asked if he feared death in 2018, before his 90th birthday, Krüger told the German news agency DPA: “I grew up with death, I got used to it.”

Acclaimed: He also starred in 1965's The Flight Of The Phoenix, alongside stars such as John Wayne and Richard Attenborough

Acclaimed: He also starred in 1965's The Flight Of The Phoenix, alongside stars such as John Wayne and Richard Attenborough

Acclaimed: He also starred in 1965’s The Flight Of The Phoenix, alongside stars such as John Wayne and Richard Attenborough

1642674870 217 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

1642674870 217 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

Target practice: Krüger starred in a series of war films, including 1978’s The Wild Geese opposite Richard Burton

After the war, Krüger struggled to pay for his acting school, so he resumed his career with small stage roles, before catching the attention of worldwide audiences with a role in the British film The One That Got Away in 1957.

The film sees Krüger play a German Luftwaffe pilot who was shot down over Britain in 1940, and documents his attempts to escape captivity.

Fluent in German, English and French, Hardy later starred in the French film Sundays and Cybèle, which won an Oscar in 1962 for Best Non-English Language Film.

In 1975, he also starred as Captain Potzdorf in Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon opposite Ryan O’Neal, and The Wild Geese With Richard Burton in 1978.

Famous Friends: Throughout his career, Krüger appeared alongside some of Hollywood's biggest stars (pictured second right at Roger Moore's 50th birthday party in 1977)

Famous Friends: Throughout his career, Krüger appeared alongside some of Hollywood's biggest stars (pictured second right at Roger Moore's 50th birthday party in 1977)

Famous Friends: Throughout his career, Krüger appeared alongside some of Hollywood’s biggest stars (pictured second right at Roger Moore’s 50th birthday party in 1977)

1642674872 939 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

1642674872 939 A Bridge Too Far star Hardy Kruger has died aged

Angry: After the news of Krüger's death, several users took to social media to pay tribute

Angry: After the news of Krüger's death, several users took to social media to pay tribute

Angry: After the news of Krüger’s death, several users took to social media to pay tribute

Hardy eventually retired from acting in the late 1980s, and went on to publish 16 books and direct several documentaries about his travels around the world.

In conversation with the German regional newspaper Augsburger Allgemeine, he said: ‘As a child I was already on the road a lot. Always new places, new school, new friends. this was my life. I was early in the US, doing an internship there.

‘Back in Germany I started my acting career and experienced quite a bit of hype with the series Against the Wind.

“Because of this I was booked for international films and I was on the road. As a UNICEF ambassador, I also came into the world a lot, in Laos, Thailand and God knows where else.’

Former Flames: Krüger was married three times;  Renate Densow from 1950 to 1964, Francesca Marazzi from 1964 to 1977, and most recently Anita Park, whom he married in 1978 (pictured in 2015)

Former Flames: Krüger was married three times;  Renate Densow from 1950 to 1964, Francesca Marazzi from 1964 to 1977, and most recently Anita Park, whom he married in 1978 (pictured in 2015)

Former Flames: Krüger was married three times; Renate Densow from 1950 to 1964, Francesca Marazzi from 1964 to 1977, and most recently Anita Park, whom he married in 1978 (pictured in 2015)

Family: He is pictured with his son Hardy Krüger Jr, whom he shared with his second wife Francesca Marazzi, in 1971

Family: He is pictured with his son Hardy Krüger Jr, whom he shared with his second wife Francesca Marazzi, in 1971

Family: He is pictured with his son Hardy Krüger Jr, whom he shared with his second wife Francesca Marazzi, in 1971

Illustrative: Krüger is pictured at the 60th Bambi Awards in 2008, where he received a Lifetime Achievement award for his decades-long career

Illustrative: Krüger is pictured at the 60th Bambi Awards in 2008, where he received a Lifetime Achievement award for his decades-long career

Illustrative: Krüger is pictured at the 60th Bambi Awards in 2008, where he received a Lifetime Achievement award for his decades-long career

Kruger was married three times; first Renate Densow from 1950 to 1964, after they had son Christiane Krüger in 1945.

His second wife was the Italian painter Francesca Marazzi from 1964 to 1977, and they had two children, Malaika in 1967 and Hardy Kruger Jr in 1968.

Most recently, Kruger was married to Anita Park, whom he married in 1978.

One of Hardy’s German followers took to Twitter to pay tribute and wrote: ‘Ad Astra Hardy Krüger. Thanks for the countless adventures and outings.’

BBC’s Patrick Jackson added: ‘Also thank you for giving us the scariest officer ever in Barry Lyndon.’

Outspoken: Krüger refused to ambush American soldiers while fighting for the German military in World War II and became a public advocate for democracy (pictured in 2013)

Outspoken: Krüger refused to ambush American soldiers while fighting for the German military in World War II and became a public advocate for democracy (pictured in 2013)

Outspoken: Krüger refused to ambush American soldiers while fighting for the German military in World War II and became a public advocate for democracy (pictured in 2013)

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