Standing at 6’6″ and weighing in at 340-pounds, Erland Van Lidth De Jeude cast an intimidating presence that made his appearances on the big screen unforgettable but there was a lot more to Erland than that. He was a multi-talented man who demonstrated excellence in whatever he applied himself too.
Erland was born on 3rd June 1953 in Hilversum, the Netherlands. In 1958 his family moved to the United States of America where they settled in Orange, New Jersey. In 1960 the family relocated to Stamford, Connecticut for two years before moving to Ridgefield, Connecticut where they remained until 1970 when they moved to Mont Vernon, New Hampshire.
Erland studied computer science at MIT (later graduating with a B.S. in Computer Science & Electrical Engineering in 1977), he also distinguished himself on the wrestling team becoming East Coast Champion and in stage productions, the most successful of which was A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, in which he played Miles Gloriosus. After graduation he worked in Manhattan as a computer professional, while also attending the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal as an alternate in the heavyweight wrestling team. His preparation for the 1980 Olympics in Moscow was cut short when the United States boycotted the event. He also won the Bronze Medal in the international Wrestling competition held in Tehran in 1978.
Erland appeared in a feature in the October 22nd 1979 issue of Sports Illustrated:
A casting director spotted Erland as he was working out at the New York Athletic Club and this led to his role as the fearsome Terror – leader of the Fordham Baldies, in the 1979 Philip Kaufman film The Wanderers.
With the acting world falling over him, Erland continued his career in Information Technology, taught English at Manhattan Community College as well as developing a singing career with the Amato Opera in New York where he studied to become a Heldenbaritone, He also managed the time to set up his own I.T. company.
In 1980, Erland portrayed the role of Grossberger in Stir Crazy alongside Richard Pryor and Gene Wilder; his actual voice wasn’t used for the song, “Down in the Valley”, in the film. Due to the SAG-AFTRA strike in 1980, he wasn’t able to record the song himself, so they used the pre-recorded track to which he had sung the song during the filming in the final print of the movie.
It would be 1982 before Erland appeared on the big screen again in the movie Alone in the Dark, and a further five years before he appeared as Dynamo in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger film The Running Man, where he announced his presence by singing an aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and electrocutes his victims.
Sadly a few months after finishing filming of The Running Man, on 23rd September 1987, Erland passed away at the age of 34 years old due to heart failure.
You can listen to our Special Podcast on Erland’s life and career HERE.