Ernst Stavro Blofeld is a fictional character and a supervillain from the James Bond series of novels and films, who was created by Ian Fleming and Kevin McClory. An evil genius with aspirations of world domination, he is the archenemy of the British Secret Service agent James Bond and is head of the global criminal organisation SPECTRE.
Beginning in 1962, the EON series of Bond films placed a far greater emphasis on the SPECTRE organisation, which effectively replaced SMERSH as the primary antagonists of the early movies. As a result of this move, SPECTRE's leader, Blofeld, also plays a more prominent role than he had in the novels.
Blofeld’s 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 facial dueling 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, a feature which is used in spoofs like the Austin Powers series.
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, planning a scheme involving stolen nuclear warheads to blackmail the United Kingdom. As in the novel, Blofeld demonstrates his ruthlessness by personally executing a disloyal member.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.
In these early appearances he wore a black business suit, rather than the Nehru jacket or Mao suit he would later become associated with.
Following Thunderball, producers began looking for another actor to continue the role in You Only Live Twice. Unlike his previous two appearances, Blofeld would now be the primary antagonist and his identity would be finally revealed to moviegoers.
Czech actor Jan Werich was originally cast by producer Harry Saltzman to play the character. Upon arriving at the Pinewood set, both producer Albert R. Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert felt that he was a bad choice, resembling a "poor, benevolent Santa Claus". Nonetheless, in an attempt to make the casting work, Gilbert continued filming. After five days, both Gilbert and Broccoli determined that Werich wasn't menacing enough, and recast Donald Pleasence in the role – the official excuse being that Werich was ill. Some scenes still contain Werich's performance, his hair just visible above the chairline.
Replacing Jan Werich in the role for You Only Live Twice, Donald Pleasence became the first actor to be publicly identified with the character. Pleasence would experiment with humps, lame hands and a beard before settling on a vicious scar down the right side of his face. His interpretation of the character has become predominate in popular culture considering the popularity of the comic villain, Dr. Evil in the successful Austin Powers film series, which primarily parodies it.
This time the master criminal has set his sights on provoking a third world war by kidnapping Soviet and American rockets. Although remaining concealed for most of the movie, giving commands and managing the operation, he is revealed after 007 manages to infiltrate his base of operations - a launch site hidden beneath an extinct volcano.
Pleasence's Blofeld also made an appearance in the 2004 game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, with the his likeness and voiced by Gideon Emery.
In 1969, American actor Telly Savalas took over the role for the sixth Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Unlike previous portrayals of Blofeld, Savalas' interpretation of the character was much more active, often taking matters into his own hands rather than relying purely on intermediaries. Although still bald, gone is the facial scarring from You Only Live Twice. The character's ear lobes have also been removed in accordance with the film's storyline.
On this occasion, the super-villain's goal appears to be more modest: Blofeld is attempting to obtain a full pardon for his previous crimes and the aristocratic title "Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp". However, from his mountain retreat, Piz Gloria, Blofeld is planning to hold the world to ransom using a biological weapon capable of rendering the world sterile.
Unlike in the novel version of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, he is not the actual killer of Tracy Bond. He does, however, drive the car from which Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat) fires the fatal shots at Tracy, just hours after she marries Bond.
Charles Gray: 1971
In Blofeld's final credited, official appearance on screen, Charles Gray assumed the role for Diamonds Are Forever. Once again undergoing a radical change in appearance and personality, Blofeld now has earlobes and silver-gray hair.
Blofeld's final scheme involves constructing an orbital laser weapon, with which he plans to destroy atomic weapon silos around the world, handing nuclear supremacy to the highest bidder. To aid him in his scheme, he assumes the identity of billionaire industrialist Willard Whyte and establishes a diamond smuggling ring.
He was supposedly killed when he got into his submarine device which Bond takes control of and sets to crash into his base; however, future events reveal he was merely injured.
Gray's Blofeld was also a playable multiplayer character in the 2010 game GoldenEye 007.
In the sixth and final appearance – in the pre-credit sequence of For Your Eyes Only – he is an anonymous, wheelchair-bound, bald villain who attempts to exact revenge on 007 by trapping him in a remotely controlled helicopter. Bond eventually regains control over the aircraft as Blofeld attempts to crash it into a factory, and, after toying with his nemesis, Bond drops Blofeld down an industrial chimney stack to his death.
Blofeld remains unnamed and unlisted in this film’s end credits. The only clues to his identity are the trademark white cat, similar clothes to his previous onscreen appearances, the dialogue indicating that he and Bond have met before, and the fact that the scene begins with Bond paying his respects to Tracy; the entire sequence was conceived by the producers as a means of providing an "immediate continuity link" to the earlier films, as it was originally planned to have a new actor take over the role of Bond in the film - often rumoured to have been Timothy Dalton (although Roger Moore ultimately returned to the part). The anonymity of the villain was due to the legal dispute between Kevin McClory and Eon Productions over theThunderball copyrights.
Blofeld's last onscreen appearance outside the Eon Productions series was in Never Say Never Again, the 1983 remake of Thunderball. This time he was played by Swedish actor 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.
Interestingly, he retained the character's familiar white cat, despite it being the invention of the earlier EON interpretations.
Blofeld is one of the main characters in the 2012 video game 007 Legends, featured in the mission based on On Her Majesty's Secret Service. At the end of the mission, Bond pursues Blofeld through his lair, having to kill countless of the latter's men. Also, contrariwise to the film and book, when Bond manages to corner Blofeld in a cable car, which launches above the mountains, taking them pair away from the base to settle their scores, Bond and Blofeld fight each other. Bond uses a fire extinguisher and also a crowbar made out of the barrier of the cable car, but Blofeld fights back quite savagely. The fight ends with Blofeld and Bond hanging over the edge of the open car. Blofeld tries one last time to finish off the 00 Agent, but Bond kicks at him and Blofeld falls, screaming, to his death. The character's appearance was an amalgamation of Donald Pleasence, Telly Savalas and Charles Gray; his voice being supplied by Glenn Wrage.
All interpretations of Blofeld are depicted as being highly intelligent, ferociously cunning and resourceful, as well as being strategically brilliant and deceptively strong. He seems to be one of Bond's most popular and dangerous enemies, as each time he comes against the 00 Agent he is able to somewhat outsmart him. Blofeld is also Machiavellian, highly manipulative and astute, able to fool almost all of MI6 in any situation. Blofeld is also arrogant and sadistic, thinking himself above everybody else in almost every aspect. Also, despite being somewhat cowardly, he is highly skilled in unarmed combat, able to overwhelm Bond on several occasions. In Diamonds are Forever he carries a knife and also a silver old-fashioned Derringer at the start of the film.
The name Blofeld was inspired by the father of English cricket commentator Henry Blofeld, with whom Fleming went to school.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE were set to be the villains in the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me, but due to the long-standing controversy over Thunderball, the villain was changed to Karl Stromberg.
Blofeld is one of three recurring villains in the James Bond series, the others being Jaws and Mr. White. Blofeld the only one of them to be killed.
Many of the characteristics of Blofeld have become clichés of supervillains in popular fiction, resulting in the stock character of the evil genius.
The look of Donald Pleasence's Blofeld in You Only Live Twice inspired the look of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films, down to the Nehru jacket and facial scar, as well as the Persian cat, which in this version loses all its fur after being cryogenically frozen.
In the first season of the Pokémon TV series, Giovanni, the boss of the Team Rocket, is depicted like Blofeld, hiding in the shadow with a Persian on his lap.
The filming style of not revealing Blofeld's face and his stroking of his cat has inspired a number of imitators, most notably the main villain of Inspector Gadget, Dr. Claw, and his evil organisation, M.A.D.
In the game Fur Fighters, the main villain is a parody of Blofeld's cat, named General Viggo.
In The Simpsons, Season 8 Episode 2: "You Only Move Twice", Hank Scorpio is a parody of Blofeld.
In an episode The Powerpuff Girls, the heroines defeat a Blofeld-like villain who had stolen a valuable jewel to power a laser, and took his pet cat home afterwards. The cat is revealed to be the villain all along, hypnotizing the girls' father into almost finishing his plans.
In an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, there is a brief moment when Ahuizotl, the villain of a book Rainbow Dash is reading, is seen stroking a white cat (who previously appeared among many predator cats for no apparent reason) with his face offscreen.