- Blofeld: "James Bond. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld. They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong."
- James Bond: "Yes, this is my second life."
- Blofeld: "You only live twice, Mr. Bond."
- ―Blofeld introduces himself to 007.[src]
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the fictional founder and head of the global criminal organisation SPECTRE. Based on the literary character created by writers Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory, Blofeld appeared in six James Bond films during EON Productions' classic (1962-2002) continuity: From Russia with Love (1963), Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969), Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and For Your Eyes Only (1981). An alternate-universe version of the character also appeared in Electronic Arts' 2004 spin-off video game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent.
Initially a partially unseen character portrayed by Anthony Dawson and Eric Pohlmann (Voice), Blofeld was subsequently played on screen by Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray. A final depiction of the character (unnamed for copyright reasons) appeared in the pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only, portrayed by John Hollis and voiced by Robert Rietty. Following years of litigation over the ownership of the character, Blofeld was later re-invented for the Daniel Craig continuity of James Bond films (2006-2021), portrayed by Christoph Waltz.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Alternate continuities
- 3 Personality
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Henchmen & associates
- 6 Gallery
- 7 Trivia
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- "SPECTRE is a dedicated fraternity whose strength lies in the absolute integrity of its members."
- ― Ernst Stavro Blofeld
During the classic continuity of 007 films, very little is revealed about the enigmatic Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Referred to initially as 'Number 1', Blofeld makes his first, anonymous appearance during the events of From Russia with Love; operating out of his luxury yacht. His face is not seen and only his lower body is visible as he strokes his trademark white cat, discussing a plan to avenge the death of SPECTRE member Doctor Julius No by setting a trap that will put Bond and Russian agent Tatiana Romanova in a position where it will appear that they killed each other while escaping to escalate tensions in the Cold War.
Consequently, Number 1 puts Rosa Klebb, an ex-SMERSH operative and the organisation's Number 3, in charge of Kronsteen's plan to manipulate the spy into stealing a Lektor cryptographic device from the Soviets.
However, the plan failed and Bond managed to kill Red Grant, a skilled SPECTRE assassin also selected by Klebb, and make off with the Lektor. Blofeld then again called Kronsteen and Klebb before him, where the two respectively blamed the other one for the failure of the operation. Eventually, Blofeld had Kronsteen killed for failing to consider Bond's capabilities. Morzeny, one of Blofeld's henchmen, stabbed Kronsteen with a blade tipped in poison. While Kronsteen died, Blofeld only watched, commenting that one day SPECTRE would have to create a faster working venom. Blofeld then orders Klebb to personally kill Bond, though this too end up in failure as Klebb ends up being killed by Tatiana.
After being absent from Goldfinger, Blofeld returned in Thunderball. Again, his identity was concealed, this time behind shutters and glass, as he chairs a meeting of the upper echelons of SPECTRE at their secretive board room in Paris, France. As each operative accounts for their respective projects to raise money for the organisation, Blofeld uncovers embezzlement involving two of the men and ruthlessly executes the guilty party by electrocution. With business dealt with, he invites Number 2, Emilio Largo, to brief the assembly on the organisation's scheme to steal two atomic warheads for the purpose of extorting money from the United Kingdom. In both early appearances he wore a black business suit, rather than the Nehru jacket or Mao suit he would later become associated with. In addition it can be seen he has a full head of dark hair.
- "As you can see, I am about to inaugurate a little war. In a matter of hours when America and Russia have annihilated each other, we shall see a new power dominating the world."
- ― Blofeld to James Bond.
Blofeld makes his next appearence as the main antagonist in You Only Live Twice. Apparently at his wits' end over the failed plots and deaths of Dr. No, Klebb, and Largo, he decided to operate his next plot personally. Blofeld oversees SPECTRE's scheme from a large rocket launch facility located inside a dormant volcano on an island in the Sea of Japan. On behalf of an unnamed third party (implied to be Red China), Blofeld attempts to ignite a war between the United States and the Soviet Union by hijacking their respective space capsules but Bond, having faked his death, was sent to investigate. One of Blofeld's associate, Osato, recognizes him and orders his assistant, Helga Brandt, to kill him. But the young woman allows herself to have sex with 007 before doing her job and finally fails in her duty. Blofeld shows his cruelty and kills her for her failure by sending her into his piranha tank where she is brutally devoured alive.
As the crisis escalates, Bond manages to infiltrate the volcano lair and attempts to board SPECTRE's spacecraft. However, a minute error catches Blofeld's attention, and he orders Bond to be brought to him, instead sending a reserve astronaut in his place. Meeting the saboteur face-to-face, Blofeld reveals his name and plans to Bond, whom he intends to kill after he captures the final space capsule; sparking a global conflict by destroying the spaceship. As 007's allies attempt to storm the crater from above, Blofeld orders the use of the facility's firepower on the intruders.
As a feigned last request, Bond requests that he be allowed to smoke. Blofeld grants the request, not realizing that the cigarette is a weapon, which 007 promptly uses to escape his captors and open the launch doors of the facility for his allies. Initially believing himself to be safe from the attackers, Blofeld soon realises that he needs to escape. He leaves the control room with Osato and Bond, holding the latter at gunpoint. On his way out, Blofeld shoots Osato in front of Bond, demonstrating how SPECTRE rewards failure. He climbs into a monorail car and attempts to shoot Bond, but is prevented by Tiger Tanaka, who sends a throwing-star into his wrist, causing him to drop his firearm. The car quickly hurtles off along the track.
Arriving at an isolated part of the base, Blofeld activates the base's self destruct system before fleeing. Although Blofeld escaped, Bond managed to destroy the rocket remotely before it could capture more astronauts.
- "In a few hours, the United Nations will receive a Yultide greeting. The information that I now possess the scientific means to control, or to destroy, the economy of the whole world. People will have more important things to think about than you."
- ― Blofeld to James Bond.
Now the subject of an international man-hunt by the British Secret Service titled Operation Bedlam, Blofeld establishes a clinical allergy-research institute atop Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps. James Bond investigates the office of Swiss lawyer Gumbold, and learns that Blofeld is corresponding with London College of Arms' genealogist Sir Hilary Bray, attempting to claim the aristocratic title "Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp". He ventures to Switzerland posing as Bray to gather intelligence on Blofeld, who has went to the lengths of having his earlobes surgically removed to back-up his claims of nobility. There he learns that Blofeld secretly plans to contaminate and ultimately sterilize the world's food supply using biological warfare, carried by his brainwashed Angels of Death. Blofeld claimed he would not carry out his plan if all his past crimes were pardoned and he is recognised as the current Count de Bleauchamp. Bond tries to trick Blofeld into leaving Switzerland so that MI6 can arrest him without violating Swiss sovereignty. Blofeld refuses and Bond is eventually caught by henchwoman Irma Bunt. Blofeld reveals that he identified Bond after his attempt to lure him out of Switzerland, and tells his men to take the agent away. Bond eventually makes his escape by skiing down Piz Gloria while Blofeld and his men give chase.
Aided by his future wife, Tracy, the next morning their flight resumes. However, they are intercepted by Blofeld, who sets off an avalanche; resulting in Tracy's capture, while Bond is buried but manages to escape. M tells 007 that Blofeld's ransom will be paid and forbids him to mount a rescue mission. Bond then enlists Marc-Ange Draco and his Unione Corse forces to attack Piz Gloria, while also rescuing Tracy from Blofeld's captivity. The facility is destroyed, and Blofeld escapes the destruction alone in a bobsleigh, with Bond pursuing him. The chase ends when Blofeld becomes snared in a tree branch, ripping him out of the bobsled and apparently killing him. Subsequently, Bond and Tracy marry in Portugal and pull over to the roadside to remove flowers from the car. As they converse, Blofeld (wearing a neck brace) and Bunt commit a drive-by shooting of the couple's car - with Blofeld driving, and Bunt firing the gun. Bond survives, but Tracy is killed in the attack.
- Blofeld Double: "You killed my only other double, I'm afraid. After his death, volunteers were understandably... rather scarce."
- Blofeld: "Such a pity. All that time and energy wasted, simply to provide you with one mock, heroic moment."
- ―Blofeld reveals himself to Bond.[src]
Circa 1971, once again pursued by a vengeful 007, Blofeld begins creating identical decoys of himself using plastic surgery. Bond eventually tracks down Blofeld's operations to a cavernous facility where his look-alikes are being created. After drowning a test subject, Bond is confronted by and kills a second decoy (who he assumes to be the real Blofeld) by plunging him into a superheated mudbath pool. The real Blofeld continued to evade capture, kidnapping and taking the place of reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte. Now operating out of Whyte's hotel penthouse and with the industrialist's considerable resources at his disposal, Blofeld set about construction of a laser satellite; with which he intended to blackmail the world's governments - auctioning off nuclear supremacy to the highest bidder. For construction of its weapon he set-up a diamond smuggling pipeline, which transported South African diamonds to Willard Whyte's Techtronics Plant in California.
Following the pipeline trail, 007 breaks into Willard Whyte's penthouse apartment only to be unexpectedly confronted with two identical Blofelds (who uses an electronic device to sound like Whyte). Bond kills one of the Blofelds, but he turns out to be a look-alike. He is then knocked out by gas, where he is picked up by Blofeld's assassins Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd and taken out to Las Vegas Valley where he is placed in a pipeline and left to die. Bond escapes and calls Blofeld posing as his right-hand man, Bert Saxby. He finds out Whyte's location and rescues him, but in the meantime Blofeld retreats to his oil platform off the coast of Baja California. In the process of escaping he abducts Bond's smuggler ally, Tiffany Case. With the satellite now in orbit, Blofeld destroys nuclear weapons in China, the Soviet Union and the United States, then proposes an international auction. Bond travels to the oil platform and is captured in an attempt to sabotage the weapon. Shortly afterwards Felix Leiter and the CIA begin a helicopter attack on the rig. In the ensuing chaos Blofeld attempts to escape using a midget submarine, but Bond gains control of the submarine's launch crane and crashes the sub into the control room, causing both the satellite control and the base to be destroyed.
- "I've looked forward to this moment, Mr. Bond. I intend to enjoy it to the full."
- ― Blofeld exacts his revenge on 007.
Blofeld evidently survived the attack and resurfaced years later (dialogue in Marvel's comic adaptation would suggest 10 years after their last encounter) with a plan to exact revenge on his old adversary, James Bond, for foiling his plans and causing the downfall of his criminal organisation. Now wheelchair-bound, bald and wearing a neck-brace, Blofeld rigs a "Universal Exports"-emblazoned Bell 206 helicopter with remote control hardware and remotely electrocutes the pilot after he collects 007. Taking control of the aircraft over a London gasworks, Blofeld toys with Bond before attempting to crash the flying death-trap in a warehouse. However, 007 regains control of the aircraft and impales Blofeld's wheelchair on its landing gear, lifting the villain into the skies. After toying with his nemesis, Bond drops the pleading Blofeld down a tall industrial chimney stack, presumably to his death.
Referred to only as "Number One", Blofeld later appeared in the 2004 spin-off James Bond game, GoldenEye: Rogue Agent. Set in an alternate futuristic timeline, Number One is the enigmatic head of a powerful criminal organisation, strongly implied to be SPECTRE. In a bid to remove threats to the organisation, Number One manipulates an underworld feud between its two most influential members, Dr. Julius No and Auric Goldfinger, with the goal of having them ultimately destroy one another. He is assisted in his scheme by the organisation's 'technology pipeline', Francisco Scaramanga, who engineers the construction of GoldenEye's eponymous golden-hued cybernetic eye. After both rivals devour one another via GoldenEye, Number One turns his attention to a new threat of his own creation - Goldfinger's former golden-eyed enforcer.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld's personality, in its authoritarian and inhuman megalomania, fits perfectly in the line of such infamous historical names as Julius Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler or Stalin. Despite his absolutely ruthless character, he possessed an exceptionally calm and calculating mind, always acting in a thoughtful manner and leaving nothing to chance.
With the same arrogant confidence with which he drew up his ambitious plans or received reports from his intimidated subordinates, he also issued his ultimatums when it was time to threaten a nation, or even the whole world. Behind his displayed imperturbability, however, was a high degree of impatience, anger, and intolerance, especially toward defaulting SPECTRE agents. Blofeld executed them without mercy and with sometimes sadistic cruelty, to set an example for his other employees. He also had no problem sacrificing his men dozens of times if it served his purposes, for other people were, at best, interchangeable chess pieces that he could move and play against each other at will on the game board of life. Blofeld was on decent terms only with a few particular individuals like Emilio Largo and Irma Bunt because they never had the misfortune of falling short of his expectations. The only living thing he felt anything like affection for was the white Persian cat that was usually at his side (not to mention it abandoned him to his fate before his presumed dead).
Although Blofeld was more of a strategist and a master thinker in the background, he was not afraid to personally intervene in the battle if necessary. However, he was most courageous when surrounded by a sufficiently large armed bodyguard, otherwise he cultivated a rather defensive fighting style, whose main goal was his safe escape. He also was a self-concerned megalomaniac who only cared about good results, profit, power, and world domination, and who formed SPECTRE to get these things, no matter how many henchmen he needs to sacrifice or how many innocent lives need to be lost in the process.
Even with several other Bond villains with massive attempted body counts, Blofeld’s plots were easily among the worst and most destructive in the franchise, having threatened millions of innocent lives and widespread, irreparable destruction, all stemming from megalomania and other purely selfish reasons without the faintest notion of good intentions.
Behind the scenes
The man behind the curtain
Beginning in 1962, the EON series of Bond films placed a far greater emphasis on the SPECTRE organisation, which effectively replaced Fleming's literary villains, SMERSH, as the primary antagonists of the early films. As a result of this move, SPECTRE's leader, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, also plays a more prominent role than he had in the novels. His appearance and personality change according to the personifying actor: He has a full head of black hair in From Russia With Love and Thunderball; a vicious facial scar in You Only Live Twice; no scar or earlobes in On Her Majesty's Secret Service; and silver-grey hair in Diamonds Are Forever. This metamorphosing matches Fleming’s literary portrayal of a master criminal who will go to great lengths to preserve his anonymity, including the use of radical plastic surgery. He often wears a jacket without lapels, based loosely either on the Nehru jacket or on the Mao suit.
Although not present in the novel, Blofeld makes his first on-screen appearance in From Russia with Love, portrayed by Anthony Dawson and voiced by Eric Pohlmann. Both men remained uncredited, the end credits listed a question mark instead of an actor’s name. In this appearance his face is not seen and only his lower body is visible as he strokes his trademark white cat, discussing a plan to avenge the death of their member Doctor Julius No by setting a trap that will put Bond and Russian agent Tatiana Romanova in a position where it will appear that they killed each other while escaping to escalate tensions in the Cold War. After being absent from Goldfinger, Blofeld returned in Thunderball.
Allow me to introduce myself...
Czech actor Jan Werich was originally cast by producer Harry Saltzman to play Blofeld in You Only Live Twice. Upon his arrival at the Pinewood set, both producer Albert R. Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert felt that he was a poor choice, resembling a "poor, benevolent Santa Claus". Nonetheless, in an attempt to make the casting work, Gilbert continued filming. After several days, both Gilbert and Broccoli determined that Werich was not menacing enough, and recast Blofeld with Donald Pleasence in the role – the official excuse being that Werich was ill. Pleasence's ideas for Blofeld's appearance included a hump, a limp, a beard, and a lame hand, before he settled on the scar. He found it uncomfortable, though, because of the glue that attached it to his eye.
Ambiguous final appearance
Blofeld's final appearance would be during the pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only (1981). The character is deliberately unnamed due to copyright restrictions with Kevin McClory, who at that time owned the film rights to Thunderball, which supposedly included the Blofeld character and other material associated with the development of Thunderball. EON Productions disputed McClory's ownership of the Blofeld character, but decided not to use him again: the scene was "a deliberate statement" by producer Albert R. Broccoli "of his lack of need to use the character." Director John Glen referred to the villain's identity obliquely: "We just let people use their imaginations and draw their own conclusions ... It's a legal thing". Clues to his identity include his white Angora cat, grey Nehru jacket and dialogue indicating that he and 007 had met before. Notably, Marvel Comics' comic book adaptation of the movie contains a more explicit hint to his identity in the form of Blofeld's comment "I thought we should celebrate the tenth anniversary of our last meeting". An apparent reference to 1971's Diamond Are Forever.
Right before Blofeld is killed, he begs to Bond to spare him, and cryptically bribes him with a delicatessen in stainless steel. This line had been added in by the producer of the film, Albert R. Broccoli, as a throwback to Mafia slang for a very cushy bribe used during the time and place he was growing up in (as at the time, having a delicatessen in stainless steel was considered luxurious especially if the owner was a street vendor).
Appearance in video games
The classic depiction of Blofeld has appeared in a number of James Bond video games as a playable multiplayer character. His first appearance was in the 2004 first-person shooter video game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, developed by EA LA and published by Electronic Arts. During its development official footage of character renders released by the publisher featured the terrorist leader 'Number One' holding his Persian Cat, with the likeness of Donald Pleasence. Likely due to legalities, in the final product the character's face is obscured, shot from behind and from the neck downwards. Number 1 was voiced by actor Gideon Emery using a similar intonation to Pleasence's portrayal of the character.
Henchmen & associates
- Blofeld inspired many villains, most notably Dr. Evil in Austin Powers, who bears a strong resemblance to Blofeld as portrayed by the Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice, and has a cat named Mr. Bigglesworth (who later loses all his hair).
- Other villains inspired by him include Dr. Claw (whose face is not seen in his first scene and has a white cat), and Giovanni (mainly his Anime appearance, whose face is also not seen until near the end of Season 1, his Persian acting as a counterpart to Blofeld's cat).
- Blofeld is different in the novels; here, he is portrayed as a master of ninja combat, and he has a castle in Japan. As in the films, he kills Tracy, but Bond actually manages to avenge his wife by actually killing Blofeld by strangling him.
- He is also shown as being very flabby in Thunderball, as well as having an STD in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
- Ian Fleming reportedly took the name from a casino member, and thought the name alone sounded evil.
- However, the name of the villain was also inspired by his classmate, the father of BBC cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, as mentioned by Henry in an interview with BBC Radio 4's Just a Minute programme.
- Blofeld's constantly changing appearance, due to the change in casting, ironically matches his appearances in Fleming's classic novels, where he is a master of disguise, able to radically change his appearance.
- During the filming of the big final battle in You Only Live Twice, the cat that played Blofeld's pet was so panicked by the effects of the explosion on set that it ran away and was only found a few days later between sets.
- Donald Pleasence does not blink as Blofeld in any of his close-ups. This stylistic device of staring ominously at the antagonist, sometimes directly into the camera, was also used by Welsh actor Sir Anthony Hopkins in his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Pleasence also appeared to use a Hungarian accent to portray Blofeld.
- During the filming of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the actors and crew were paid daily in cash. Telly Savalas took Bond actor George Lazenby's entire fee during those days of filming in the form of a briefcase full of cash during a nightly poker game.
- The scene in which Blofeld is pulled from the bobsled by the fork of the overhanging branch was filmed under controlled studio conditions after the stunt, performed by Savalas himself, was deemed too dangerous to shoot on location.
- At the beginning of the production of The Spy Who Loved Me, Blofeld was actually supposed to return as the antagonist. However, due to a copyright dispute, this idea was dropped and the new character Karl Stromberg was created, who still bears some similarities to Blofeld.
- Due to his record number of appearances as a villain within the Bond series (seven in the mainstream series, eight if we include Never Say Never Again), the murder of Bond's wife and their unparalleled level of personal rivalry, Blofeld is widely accepted by fans as 007's archenemy.
- Ernst Stavro Blofeld
- Blofeld (Literary)
- Blofeld (Max von Sydow)
- Blofeld (Glenn Wrage)
- Blofeld (Christoph Waltz)
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- (October 1, 1981) James Bond: For Your Eyes Only #1. Marvel Comics, p.2.