|“|| James Bond. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld. They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong.
...You only live twice, Mr. Bond.
|~ Blofeld to James Bond in You Only Live Twice.|
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a fictional character and the primary antagonist of the James Bond franchise. He is an evil and knowledgeable criminal mastermind and the archenemy of James Bond.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld is the founder and head of the global terrorist organization SPECTRE with aspirations of world domination. He makes anonymous, cameo appearances in From Russia with Love and Thunderball, before appearing as the main antagonist in You Live Only Twice, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Diamonds Are Forever. He is recognizable for frequently petting his white Persian cat. He later reappears in the rebooted series, acting as the main antagonist in Spectre with his organization as the titular supporting antagonists.
Since then, the character has been notified as one of the most iconic, active, perpetual, and influential villains to ever date in film media.
He was portrayed by the late Anthony Dawson, but voiced by the late Eric Pohlmann in From Russia with Love and Thunderball, the late Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice, the late Telly Savalas in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the late Charles Gray in Diamonds are Forever, the late John Hollis, but voiced by the late Robert Rietti in the pre-title sequence of For Your Eyes Only, Max van Sydow in Never Say Never Again, and Christoph Waltz in Spectre.
Character History in Film
Blofeld makes his first anonymous appearance in From Russia with Love, on board his private yacht. His face remains unseen, but his hands and his signature white cat remain visible. There he meets with Rosa Klebb, SPECTRE agent number three, and as well as Number Five, the chess master Tov Kronsteen. He had developed a plan to play the Soviet Union off against the west via the theft of the new Lektor decoding device, which was being kept at the Russian embassy in Constantinople. The plan required an embassy worker to contact one of the western powers with a plan to steal the device. Klebb, who had until recently been a high ranking member of the Soviet agency SMERSH, was given the task of choosing the Russian, who would believe they were in fact working for SMERSH.
The plan was given a second purpose, revenge on James Bond for killing SPECTRE agent Dr. Julius No. The Russian dupe, Tatiana Romanova, was ordered by Klebb to contact the British secret service and act as if she had fallen in love with Bond from afar, offering to help him steal the Lektor. The plan was to be carried out, and the duo were shadowed by Red Grant, a SPECTRE assassin also selected by Klebb. However, the plan failed and Bond managed to kill Grant 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.
Largo and Nassau
Blofeld makes his second anonymous appearance in Thunderball. He is seen in SPECTRE's Paris's lair, where he watches as Number Two, Emilio Largo, unveils his personal plan. It involved using plastic surgery, murder, and deceit to hijack a Vulcan bomber carrying two nuclear warheads and conceal the plane underwater near Largo's estate in Nassau, the Bahamas. SPECTRE would then threaten to detonate warheads over a major US city if they weren't paid millions of dollars. However, then plan fell apart when Bond and an army of frogmen stopped Largo from launching the warheads and when Largo was killed by his mistress.
Blofeld makes his next appearance as the main antagonist of You Only Live Twice. Apparently at his wits' end over the failed plots and deaths of Dr. No, Klebb, and Largo, Blofeld decided to operate his next plot personally. He set up his base in the crater of an extinct volcano on an island in Japan. He used this base to launch a rocket ship which had the ability to capture space capsules. Blofeld's intention was to capture both United States and Soviet capsules, getting the superpowers to blame each other. This was supposed to touch off a nuclear war, and in the ensuing chaos, both the U.S. and Soviet Union would fall, leaving SPECTRE to take control of the world. Bond, having faked his death, was sent to investigate.
One of Blofeld's associate, Osato, recognizes Bond 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. Bond managed to infiltrate the volcano lair and tried to get on board the rocket, but a minute error caught Blofeld's attention, and he ordered Bond to be brought to him, instead sending a spare pilot into space. At this point, Blofeld reveals his face, name and plans to Bond, whom he intends to kill after he captures one more space capsule. However, Blofeld orders his henchman Hans to detonate the spaceship, to leave the US and the Soviets no chance but to go to war. When Bond asked Blofeld whether he could smoke a last cigarette Blofeld granted the agent the wish, stating that Bond would surely not die from smoking. However, the cigarette hid a small explosive missile, which Bond aimed at one of his captors. He wrestled free from the other men holding him and managed to open the gate of the volcano base. Though Bond was immediately recaptured, the opening of the gate allowed the head of the Japanese secret service, Tiger Tanaka, and a special unit of ninjas, to infiltrate the base and to attack SPECTRE. Initially believing to be safe from the attackers, Blofeld soon realises that he needs to escape. He leaves the control room of the base with Osato and Bond, holding the latter at gunpoint. Blofeld opens a secret door, but shoots Osato, claiming that this would be how SPECTRE rewards failure. Taking Bond with him, Blofeld arrives at the railway station he plans to escape with. There, he intends to shoot Bond but Tanaka throws a throwing star from below, causing Blofeld to drop his gun. However, he quickly steps back into the railway cart which drives off, separating Bond from Blofeld.
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.
Blofeld would return as the main antagonist in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, where he had relocated himself to the treacherous Swiss Alps. Receiving plastic surgery as he had in the past to disguise his identity, he sought to have his noble heritage confirmed, so that he would become recognized as a Baron. He had opened a research clinic known as 'Piz Gloria', which dealt with all menagerie of allergies and illnesses, his business partner, the cold Irma Bunt standing by his side.
An elegant thug, this incarnation of Blofeld invited the interests of his sworn nemesis, James Bond, who discovered that he was seeking to confirm his aristocracy, and so went undercover as the Herald, Sir Hillary Bray, dispatched to spend time with the villain and to determine the authenticity of his claims for greatness. He learned that all of his patients were beautiful women, and fraternizing with a few, Bond discovered they were receiving psychedelic hypnosis as a cure, brainwashing them into believing they were better, besides more obvious physical remedies.
Swiftly discovered, Agent 007 found that these were Blofeld's 'Angels of Death', and that he was plotting to use them as plague carriers of a new germ agent he had been perfecting, 'Virus Omega', able to disintegrate all livestock and cereals, a threat he would tempt to bully and blackmail an unsuspecting globe. Giving them parting gifts in the form of make-up kits, these actually contained equipment that would allow him to communicate with the Angels of Death once they had returned to their homes everywhere, telling them how and when they would deploy his secret weapon which had also been concealed in the presents, but only if his demands weren't met. Blofeld used his hypnosis to ensure they would follow his instructions exactly.
The world was petrified by the megalomaniac's plot, but Bond refused to let him win and stormed his base with the help of his captured fiancée's father, a rival of Blofeld's, disguising themselves as a mercy flight for the Red Cross, their helicopters stormed Piz Gloria, and were able to destroy it, while Bond and Blofeld had a bobsled chase, ending with Ernst getting his neck clipped on a tree. After Bond's wedding, a crippled Blofeld would have his revenge, he and Bunt organizing a drive-by shooting that stole Bond's wife, immortalizing their hatred of one another.
Blofeld appears again as the main antagonist in Diamonds Are Forever, James Bond searched for Blofeld and found a facility where he was using plastic surgery to create duplicates of himself. Bond pushed one lookalike, whom he thought was the real Blofeld, into super-heated mud, killing him.
Blofeld posed as a billionaire, Willard Whyte, seeking out diamonds to power his laser satellite. His henchmen, Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, systematically killed diamond smugglers and stole their diamonds for Blofeld. When Bond entered the Whyte House to confront Whyte, he came face to face with Blofeld and a lookalike. This was the only other Blofeld double, since after the death of the first there were no more volunteers. Bond kicked Blofeld's white cat which one of the Blofelds caught, and Bond, thinking him to be the real Blofeld, shot him. However, both he and the cat turned out to be clones.
Blofeld knocked Bond out, and Wint and Kidd placed him in a pipeline to die. He escaped and posed as his henchman, Bert Saxby, and called Blofeld, finding out the real Whyte's location, but Blofeld kidnapped diamond smuggler Tiffany Case, who switched sides when she found out Blofeld was trying to kill her (and who Bond fell in love with).
With his laser satellite powered by diamonds, Blofeld destroyed nuclear weapons in the United States, China, and the Soviet Union, and proposed an international auction for global nuclear supremacy. However, Bond, Felix Leiter, and the CIA found Blofeld's base of operations, an oil rig, and attacked it. Blofeld attempted to escape in a submarine, but Bond took control of it and set it to repeatedly crash into the control room, destroying the base and satellite control. With Blofeld having seemingly perished in the base's destruction, SPECTRE was finally dismantled for good.
During the opening credits of For Your Eyes Only, a bald man with a white cat is seen wheelchair-bound, wanting revenge against Bond for destroying and shutting down all his major operations and dismantling SPECTRE, determining to finish him off by himself this time. When a helicopter was giving Bond a ride, piloted by one of his men, the bald man electrocuted the pilot and controlled the helicopter with a console attached to his wheelchair. After toying with Bond, the bald man tried to crash the helicopter, but Bond regained control of the helicopter, picked up the bald man with the helicopter's landing skid while his cat ran off in fear. Bond then proceeds to drop the bald man down an industrial chimney, presumably killing him.
It is assumed that this bald man is Blofeld, having become wheelchair-bound following the injuries he sustained in Diamonds Are Forever and still possessing his white cat. However, it isn't clear whether or not this actually is him despite the clues that would suggest so, and simply adds more mystery to the real Blofeld's ultimate fate.
For Your Eyes Only features a different antagonist in the main plot, and the bald man is not credited or identified by name due to the legal disputes over the Thunderball film.
Never Say Never Again
In the non-Eon remake of Thunderball, entitled Never Say Never Again, Blofeld serves as a major antagonist and is portrayed by Max von Sydow. Here, Blofeld is tall, thin, and bearded, with a European accent more in keeping with the character as presented in From Russia With Love and Thunderball.
In the film, Blofeld once serves as the head of SPECTRE, and has had one of his agents, Jack Petachi, undergo an operation on his right eye to make it match the retinal pattern of the US President, which he uses to circumvent iris recognition security at an American military base in England. While doing so, he has his lieutenant Maximillian Largo replace the dummy warheads in two cruise missiles with live nuclear warheads; SPECTRE then try to use the warheads to extort billions of dollars from NATO governments. However, Bond manages to foil the plot, and Largo is killed. SPECTRE's and Blofeld's fates after that remain unknown.
- Main article: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Reboot Series)
- Blofeld inspired many villains, most notably Dr. Evil in Austin Powers. Dr. Evil bears a strong resemblance to Blofeld as portrayed by the late Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice, and has a cat named Mr. Bigglesworth (who later loses all his hair).
- In the Alex Rider series the villain Julia Rothman comments that if real life was as black and white as films, she would be sitting in a chair with a white cat and a scar down her cheek, referencing Blofeld.
- Blofeld is different in the novels, 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.
- The late author, Ian Fleming, reportedly took the name from a casino member, and thought the name alone sounded evil.
- Producer Harry Sullivan initially cast the Czech actor Jan Werich as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, though producer Albert R. Broccoli and director Lewis Sullivan considered him a poor choice, calling him a "poor, benevolent Santa Claus". He was subsequently replaced by Donald Pleasence, though some of Wercihs scenes were still used in the film (scenes where Blofeld is shown with a full head of hair before his face is revealed).
- Blofeld has many different appearances and voices due to being portrayed by different actors. Although his face is not seen in From Russia with Love, he is depicted with slick dark hair. His head is never seen in Thunderball, and he is bald with a scar on his face in You Only Live Twice, with a higher voice. His voice becomes deeper again in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, talking a different way, and he loses his scar. He has white hair in Diamonds are Forever. His face is never seen in For Your Eyes Only, but his appearance and voice are similar to You Only Live Twice.
- Due to his record number of appearances as a villain within the Bond series (seven in the mainstream series, eight if you 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.