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Christian Gudegast, Gale Gudegast and Eric Braeden | Source: Getty Images
Christian Gudegast, Gale Gudegast and Eric Braeden | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden’s Wife of 56 Years Encouraged Him to Take His Iconic Role in ‘The Young and the Restless’

Joe Akins
Dec 31, 2021
12:00 P.M.

For over forty years, Eric Braeden has been a recurrent face on the CBS series "The Young and the Reckless." However, there was a time when he thought of quitting the show.

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The movie industry has been blessed with many entertainers who consistently kept film and series lovers glued to their screens. One star from the long list of actors is Eric Braeden.

The German-born icon has enjoyed a stellar career for many years, with many movie credits to his name. Not everyone gets to hold a role in a television series for four decades, but Braeden has done so perfectly.

Eric Braeden pictured at the Premiere Of STX Films' "Den Of Thieves" held at Regal LA Live Stadium 14, 2018, California | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden pictured at the Premiere Of STX Films' "Den Of Thieves" held at Regal LA Live Stadium 14, 2018, California | Source: Getty Images

Braeden’s Life as an Athlete

For more than 40 years and 50 seasons, he has portrayed Victor Newman's character in "The Young and The Reckless."

Apart from his acting talent, the icon also has his athleticism at a young age to thank for his success. Let's take a look at the early life of Braeden.

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Eric Braeden was born during the second world war as Hans Gudegast in Kiel, Germany. He developed an interest in sports at an early age and eventually became an outstanding athlete who constantly had excellent performances in teaching and field events.

Sports became Braeden's salvation in more ways than one; dancing lessons, gymnastics, and Tanzschule were mandatory for young German boys.

Braeden developed confidence, focus, coordination, and strength with consistent participation in these sports. In addition, sports also taught the "The Young and The Reckless" actor rules, structure, winning, losing dignity, and discipline.

Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott, Christian Leblanc and Sharon Case at "The Young and the Restless" party marking the 40th anniversary of the TV series on June 10, 2013 | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden, Melody Thomas Scott, Christian Leblanc and Sharon Case at "The Young and the Restless" party marking the 40th anniversary of the TV series on June 10, 2013 | Source: Getty Images

How It Helped Him

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Apart from the moral and mental benefits Braeden derived, sports also paved the way for him in the United States. Braeden moved to the United States when he was a teenager and did some jobs to keep him afloat.

He worked as a translator in Texas and Montana and as a lumber millhand and a cowhand. Not long after he arrived in the US, Braeden landed a scholarship to Montana State University thanks to his athletic skills.

In the University, the actor and his friend Bob McKinnon made a film titled "The Riverbusters." In an attempt to find a distributor for the documentary, Braeden met a few people who helped him kick-start his career as an actor. After his encounter, he enjoyed a smooth ride to stardom.

Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden on April 4, 1984 at the Taping of "The Young and the Restless" | Source: Getty Images

Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden on April 4, 1984 at the Taping of "The Young and the Restless" | Source: Getty Images

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Braeden on “The Young and the Reckless”

In 1980, Braeden's career skyrocketed when he was cast as Victor Newman on the CBS soap opera "The Young and The Reckless." At the time, he was not interested in accepting the offer. During a 2020 chat with People, the actor said:

"To be honest with you, I was not particularly interested. I really wasn't. I'm not saying that to play it down, I was very trepidatious about it. I didn't even know what a soap was."

Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden during "The Young and The Restless" celebration of 900 Weeks as The #1 Rated Daytime Drama at CBS Studios | Source: Getty Images

Melody Thomas Scott and Eric Braeden during "The Young and The Restless" celebration of 900 Weeks as The #1 Rated Daytime Drama at CBS Studios | Source: Getty Images

However, after being convinced by his friend and co-star, Dabney Coleman, Braeden changed his heart. He mentioned that he auditioned with Lee Phillip Bell and William J. Bell.

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At first, Braeden intended to play the role for only three months, but after a conversation with Bill Bell, he decided to continue for a longer time.

Christian Gudegast, Dale Gudegast and actor Eric Braeden pose as Braeden is honored with the 2,342th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 20, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

Christian Gudegast, Dale Gudegast and actor Eric Braeden pose as Braeden is honored with the 2,342th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on July 20, 2007 | Source: Getty Images

The 40th Anniversary

2021 marked 40 years since the show aired, and Braeden recounted some of his experiences on the show. In the interview with People, he said that four generations of people who had watched him would show up whenever he made public appearances.

The actor said it was always touching to see people show up with their grandparents and grandchildren. Among everything he learned from being a part of the show, Braeden learned to appreciate the relationship between what was created on TV and the audience.

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 Eric Braeden, his wife Dale and their son Christian celebrate Braeden's 25th anniversary playing Victor Newman on "The Young and The Restless" on February 1, 2005 | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden, his wife Dale and their son Christian celebrate Braeden's 25th anniversary playing Victor Newman on "The Young and The Restless" on February 1, 2005 | Source: Getty Images

Will Braeden Retire Soon?

Braeden also owes his consistency in the series to his wife. After being on "The Young and the Restless" for one year, the actor wanted to quit. However, his wife encouraged him to keep doing the show.

The German native explained that overall, his long-time wife had been his source of encouragement in show business. At 81, and after 42 years on "The Young and the Restless," Braeden has no plans of retiring.

Although he loves his family, friends, and colleagues, the icon also loves his life as an actor.

Director Christian Gudegast and actor/father Eric Braeden arrive for the Premiere Of STX Films' "Den Of Thieves" on January 17, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

Director Christian Gudegast and actor/father Eric Braeden arrive for the Premiere Of STX Films' "Den Of Thieves" on January 17, 2018 | Source: Getty Images

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The Actor’s Thoughts on Birthdays

On April 3, 2016, Braeden turned 75. A few days after his birthday celebration, he appeared as a guest on AfterBuzz TV. During the conversation, the actor was asked what birthdays meant to him. In his response, Braeden said:

"Nothing!! I forget about them very quickly, except my family and friends want to celebrate it, and we have a little celebration."

He further added, "I'm very reluctant about my birthdays. I usually plan them at the last minute, if at all. Try to get around it. But if nothing happens, I'm insulted." In conclusion, the star only celebrates with family and a few friends in a small way.

Eric Braeden and his niece arrive to his book signing for 'I'll Be Damned: How My Young And Restless Life Led Me To America's #1 Daytime Drama' at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on February 13, 2017 | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden and his niece arrive to his book signing for 'I'll Be Damned: How My Young And Restless Life Led Me To America's #1 Daytime Drama' at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on February 13, 2017 | Source: Getty Images

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All about Braeden’s Family

Although Braeden is still focused on appearing in movies, he is also big on spending time with his family. The star has been married for a long time to the love of his life, Dale Russell.

Born on June 21, 1942, in Los Angeles, California, Russell is an actress. She is known for her role in the 2001 movie "Holiday in the Sun." Russell and Braeden tied the knot on October 8, 1966, and their marriage has yielded one son, Christian Gudegast.

Eric Braeden and Dale Russell Gudegast at the CBS Daytime in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

Eric Braeden and Dale Russell Gudegast at the CBS Daytime in Beverly Hills, California | Source: Getty Images

Like his father, Christian has achieved a lot in the entertainment industry. In 1992, he graduated from UCLA film school and is currently a writer and filmmaker.

In addition to his professional achievements, Christian is also a doting father to three children, making Russell and Braeden proud and happy grandparents.

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