Website last updated: 7-5-2024

German Actor Gottfried John (1942-2014)

By: Anders Frejdh
Gottfried John James Bond obituary
FSWL are saddened to report the passing of Gottfried John, aged 72. Gottfried played the part of General Ourumov in GoldenEye (1995) (1995). Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

"My dear friend, we played in the world of James Bond and traveled the world together to celebrate the success of GoldenEye. I am so proud to have worked along side you. My prayers and sympathies go out to your family at this sad time in life. Peace be with you." – Pierce Brosnan

Gottfried John obituary:
72-year-old German actor Gottfried John passed away in Munich on September 1, 2014. He became famous to an international audience for his part as General Ourumov in GoldenEye (1995). His distinctive nose and deep voice are a result of two nasal bone fractures which took place when he was still in the children's home.

John was born illegitimate 1942 in Berlin, he never met his father. During the war he was evacuated together with his mother and came to East Prussia. He had a stutter when he was a child and was not so good in school. Because his mother was travelling alone with him through different countries, she lost custody for him. At the age of 15 he came to a children's home but could escape two years later. He came with his mother to Paris where he lived and worked as street painter and construction worker for two years. Both lived very poor on a small boat on the river Seine.

It was in Paris where Gottfried John took his first acting lessons, but he was not aware of it at the time. In the wintertime it was so cold that when he entered a postal office to write a simple postcard, it took him several hours.

Gottfried and his mother returned to Berlin in 1960 where he tried to join the Reinhardt-Seminar (an acting school). "I believed they must notice that I am talented“, he said in an interview later. But he failed the entrance exam. Nevertheless, he took private lessons and debuted 1971 on stage of the Schiller-Theatre in Berlin. German audience became aware of him on many theatre plays. In 1972, German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder hired him for the tv series Acht Stunden sind kein Tag, and later for the films The Marriage of Maria Braun (1979), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980) and Lili Marleen (1981) – all huge mark posts for Gottfried John.

In 1985, John appeared in the German comedy Otto – Der Film which still holds the record for the biggest audience in German cinemas: 14,5 million tickets were sold. About his part as General Ourumov in GoldenEye, he said: "I tried to play the rise and fall of the Soviet Union in one person, with all human weaknesses.“ And: "I am sure that Bond will win again."

In 2006 he played the character of Jonathan Jeremiah in Bertolt Brechts "Dreigroschenoper“ in Berlin directed by Klaus Maria Brandauer (Maximilian Largo in Never Say Never Again).

Since 2008, he lived with his family in Bavaria (southern part of Germany) at the Ammersee where he died of cancer on September 1st. Gottfried John once wrote: "I have lived so many different lives and I know that every single one looks like the ideal one.“

Photo above:
Gottfried John in a publicity still for GoldenEye. Photo by Keith Hamshere. © 1995 Danjaq LLC. & United Artists Pictures. An MGM Company. All rights reserved.

For more information about Gottfried John's career, check out his IMDB profile:



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