By Andrew Blumetti
“Vigy, Vigy, Vigy, you have been a bad monkey!”
–Dr. Peter Venkman
Amen brotha Billy… in fact you don’t even know the half of it.
Vigo the Carpathian, main antagonist in 1989’s summer-comedy spooktacular sequel, Ghostbusters II, was a 17th Century Moldavian genocidal tyrant, so horridly sadistic and blood-curdlingly malevolent, he earned a shopping list of not-so jolly nicknames, including but not limited to: “Vigo the Cruel”, “Vigo the Torturer”, Vigo the Despised” and “Vigo the Butch Unholy”.
That concentrated evil is all just Hollywood magic of course. When director Ivan Reitman yelled “Cut!”, the loathsome, murderous former-painting Vigo took off his mustard-y armor plated threads and was nothing more than an ordinary 20th Century human– German-born actor, Wilhelm von Homburg.
Wilhelm von Homburg?
True, a name that certainly doesn’t organically ring that familiar bell the way Tom Hanks or Brad Pitt does upon first listen. While
Fabio Tony Little-lookalike, Vigo, was a celebrated villain to millions of movie fans, poor ‘ol Wilhelm was far from the definition of household of names, especially here in the United States.
Don’t mistake that last statement for a boring life though. On the contrary in fact. In spite of his unfamiliar foreign moniker and assumed one claim-to-fame, blondielocks lived quite an enthralling life to say the least.
So, kick back, unplug that dancing toaster, hop in the Statue of Liberty’s crown and let’s take a walk down memory lane. When all is said and done, you’ll be rather surprised to learn of the roller coaster-ride of the life of the man who played the painting who tried to steal the baby to come back and kill the men who captured ghosts for a high fee.
Not one to be pushed around in the film, but during the filming of Ghostbusters II, the Vigmeister lost a bet on the Cleveland Browns and had to clean up after those sloppy Scoleri Brothers. No easy task- those paranormal fatties dropped Devil Dog crumbs EVERYWHERE. We’d all like to think perhaps the whole cast pitched in to help. Somewhere there has to be a photo of Rick Moranis accidentally dropping his glasses into the men’s room urinal while changing the cakes.
Bust out them singlets!
In the 1950’s, he wrestled in the United States with his father under his birth name, Norbert Grupe.
Due to people incorrectly pronouncing his last name, “Groupie”, he changed his name to the much more roll-off-the-tongue, “Wilhelm von Homburg”. A few years later, he’d switch over to a different kind of ring, as boxing came calling his “impossible-to-pronounce-without-sounding-like-you’re-in-the-SS” name.
PUT UP YOUR DUKES!
From 1962 to 1970, Homburg found a career as a successful boxer, nicknamed “Prinz”, a grand stage-name chosen in order to create a sense of royalty surrounding him.
Unofficial nicknames given to the pugilist were “The Boxing Beatle” thanks to his moppy mane, and the slightly less popular, “The German Answer to Muhammad Ali” thanks to the obvious resemblance.
He ended his career with a record of 29 wins, 11 losses, and 6 draws. But to be fair, half of those victories came against Slimer.
In 2002, a documentary about Homburg’s life, entitled The Boxing Prince, was released. This was later renamed to The Artist Formerly Known as the Boxing Prince… then eventually just a symbol.
JUST YOUR AVERAGE AWKWARD GERMAN TV INTERVIEW
The day after a lost boxing match against rival Oscar Bonavena in 1969, Homburg appeared for a television interview on a German talk show. He sat silent and smirking for the entire 10 minutes as the interviewer tossed snarky comments about Homburg’s boxing loss and his flashy lifestyle his way.
It still had twice as many viewers as any episode of Joey though.
Despite his most prominent role as the adversary in Ghostbusters II, Homburg also had a minor acting career, appearing in hit movies starring Carl Winslow, such as Die Hard, and non-hit movies without Carl Winslow, such as Diggstown, and John Carpenter’s 1994 horror film, In the Mouth of Madness.
VIGO’S ACTION FIGURE? TERRIFYING.
To properly showcase Vigo’s mighty shoulder pads, a Janet Jackson “Rhythm Nation” doll was just painted over to achieve the look.
VIGO’S “TO CATCH A PREDATOR-ISH” VOICE? DUBBED.
Bill Murray first dipped his gut-busting toe into the world of more dramatic roles in Wes Anderson’s 1998 charming classic, Rushmore. Just five short years later, his brilliant performance as Bob Harris, an aging actor trying to find himself in Tokyo in 2003’s Lost in Translation made him a frontrunner for the first Academy Award of his career.
One textbook self-righteous Sean Penn acceptance speech later, and Murray’s trophy night never came to be.
Fret not specter-catching fans– While we can’t say Ghostbusters II included an Oscar-winning actor, at least we can say Bill Murray has good company with another Academy Award nominee in the film.
Max von Sydow, a Swedish actor, best known for playing Father Lankester Merrin in the horror landmark, The Exorcist, and appeared in Hannah and Her Sisters, The Diary of Anne Frank, and most recently, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, provided the few voiced lines of Vigo the Carpathian in the film.
VIGO THE CONVICT
It wasn’t all fun times in the ring and bro-down pow-wows with Dan Aykroyd for Homburg though.
The persistent paparazzi hounded him, following the actor’s descent into the darker corners of his life. Homburg’s life became filled with drugs, drug dealing, pimping and extortion, even spending a chunk of time 1%’ing it up with a Hell’s Angels chapter.
After many run-ins with Johnny Law, he spent five years in jail for charges on the previously mentioned bevy of charges. Which was a major pleabargin from his initial sentence of being sprayed endlessly with gooey pink slime.
ADIOS ‘OL VIGY…
Unfortunately, after a troubled and turbulent life, Homburg passed away almost a decade ago, to the day, on March 10, 2004 from complications from cancer. And with him, we said raise our proton packs, give an ‘ol 21 “not crossing the streams” salute and say goodbye to the second-greatest Ghostbusters villain to grace the silver screen.
Wait, let’s make sure of this…
1. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
3. Walter Peck
5. the old lady ghost in the library
6. Jack Hardemeyer, the mayor’s assistant
7. Female Gozar (who actually should count as Stay Puft as well…)
Okay, silver medal sounds good enough.
“I’ve worked with better, but not many.”
–Dr. Peter Venkman