'Young And Restless' Star Eric Braeden Thrives As Dedicated Husband Of 55 Years

Aug 05, 2022 by apost team

German actor Eric Braeden is best known for his dynamic portrayal of Victor Newman in the CBS soap opera "The Young and the Restless." The series ran for a staggering 12,000 episodes, having run from 1973 until the present. Prior to joining the juggernaut of a show, Braeden accomplished several TV and movie credits, starring in. "Colossus: the Forbidden Planet," "Titanic," as well as "Escape from the Planet of the Apes."

It wasn't until the 1980s that Braeden transformed into the self-made business magnet, Newman, earning continuous awards for his character. The actor grew the man, who was only originally slated for a 26-week run, into a mainstay character. At first, Braeden had been hesitant. Recalling his decision to play the character, he said, "Initially, I didn’t want to do this role." Newman perhaps did not seem challenging enough for the young actor, and television was not a glittering enough lure. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to do daytime.’ I thought it was too confining, " he remembered. Luckily, Braeden took the part, and the rest is history.   

Newman has been an integral part of "The Young and Restless" throughout the years, and in 2020, Braeden celebrated his 40th anniversary with the show. He even appeared in the crossover series "The Bold and the Beautiful," which premiered in 1987 and featured several Y&R cast members. 

As Braeden's armful of Emmys suggests, the actor is either incredibly talented or actually just Newman at heart. Of course, over the decades, there has been some mixing of the men.

Eric Braeden (1990), (Fotos International/Archive Photos/Getty Images)

Reflecting on the sometimes thin line between himself and his character, even Braeden himself admitted, “If you watch Victor closely, you see a lot of Eric.” However, Eric is, in a way, also something of an invention, given the actor was pressured to change his name (Hans Gudegast) when he was first just breaking into Tinseltown. 

"Eric is a family name,” Braeden explained, “and Braeden is from the name of my village in Germany. Changing my name was one of the most painful decisions I’ve ever made, so I needed to choose a name that I could still identify with.” Of course, Braeden wasn't the first and won't be the last asked to create, to adapt, to Americanize a persona for the silver screen. And thankfully, the actor chose well, and Braeden was as successful as Newman. 

His move to the US, while it cost him his name, was a needed change from the desolation Braeden had seen in Germany. “I saw America as a land of opportunity,” he recalled, “But also as the land of adventure, the land of cowboys, " he said. "This is a country of immigrants, and has always been hospitable and open to new citizens.”

Braeden's losses in Germany, namely the death of his father when he was young, partially inspired the emotionality of his characters, even the coldhearted Newman. “Because of the pain of my early years, I think it’s fortunate that I’ve been blessed with a reflective and empathic nature. I’m basically a soft touch," he mused.


Eric Braeden (2006), (Jesse Grant/WireImage/Getty Images)

He continued, saying, "…but I come out fighting when pushed." One thing Braeden fights unquestioningly for is his family, both onscreen and off. Whether drawing from his experiences as Newman or from his childhood in Germany, Braeden has become an exemplary father and family man. 

A dedicated grandfather and committed husband, Braeden seems to be quite the opposite of his character and much more down-to-earth. When viewing pictures of Braeden with his grandkids, he appears as overwhelmingly excited to spend time with the new generation as any elder. Judging by his Twitter, Braeden lives a life somewhat typical of an eighty-one-year-old, using lots of candid photos, exclamation points, and capital letters to express his love for his family. 

Braeden has three granddaughters from his son, screenwriter and actor Christian Gudegast. He is the only child from Braeden's marriage to Dale Russell Gudegast. The two met decades ago at Santa Monica College, where Gudegaat majored in art, and Braeden studied economics and philosophy. They have been married now for over 50 years, with Dale describing her husband as “endearing as no one else can be.” For a 1997 interview, the still buff and active Braeden was described as willingly picking a "wildflower bouquet" for Dale after jogging in West Los Angeles before returning home to her.

In a 2019 anniversary post, Braeden penned a touching tribute to his partner, writing, "through trials and tribulations our love has endured, our bonds have become stronger than ever!!!" It's touching to see the man who is so often cruel on screen be present and loving to his off-screen family.

Christian Gudegast, Stacey Gudegast, Dale Gudegast, Eric Braeden (2005), (Amanda Edwards/Getty Images)

What's your favorite episode featuring the devious Newman? Let us know — and be sure to pass this article on to friends, family, and fellow Y&R fans!

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