Conrad Siegfried (KAOS code name "Ludwig") is one of the most well-known characters in the TV series Get Smart. But "would you believe" that, out of 138 episodes, Siegfried was in only 14 of them, from 1966 to 1970?? (13 on TV Land, as Kopell's entire scene was cut from the episode "Somebody Down Here Hates Me". This horrendous job of butchering prevented a new generation of GS fans from seeing Siegfried's most hilarious tirade ever.) Talk about making an impression; in only 14 episodes, Siegfried became Maxwell Smart's best-known enemy. What made Siegfried so memorable?
An impressive makeup job aged Bernie Kopell from early thirties to late forties (Siegfried had, after all, fought in World War II in Hitler's army). It also provided him with a realistic-looking scar, which Siegfried had sustained during a duel in Heidelberg. (Later, in the TV movie Get Smart, Again, it's revealed that he had been dueling with his brother — and inflicted a similar scar on him!)
Unlike most KAOS hoods, Siegfried didn't limit himself to wearing a black suit and hat. As befitting his higher rank as Vice-President in Charge of Treason, and Vice-President in Charge of Public Relations and Terror, he tended to prefer clothes that hinted at his military background.
Leather jackets and trench coats were the norm, often with the KAOS logo over the heart. When the situation demanded (whether commanding a prison camp in New Jersey, or flying a crop-dusting plane as he decimated America's potato crop), he would wear a uniform — that of a high-ranking officer, of course. Let Dr. Yes have his long fingernails, and The Craw have his traditional Asian garb; Siegfried made sure he always looked like the fear-inspiring "KAOS super spy" he considered himself to be.
Maxwell Smart was cocky, but Siegfried took egotism to a whole new level. Even when he wasn't uttering a word, his entire attitude reeked of contemptuous arrogance, the likes of which had never been seen in a KAOS agent before or since. So convinced was he of his own superiority, that he considered everyone else — from his enemies at CONTROL to his underlings at KAOS — to be incompetent dummkopfs and sissies. He was so proud of his "genius", that every time he captured his enemies, he would boast the details of his diabolical schemes before doing away with his (literally) captive audience. The only probem with this was that it just gave CONTROL all the information they needed, to dismantle Siegfried's plans before they could come to fruition. [See "Siegfried's Theatrics", below.]
His impatience with everything drove Siegfried to have a frightful temper, making his contemporaries at KAOS look like choirboys in comparison. This rage vented itself in torrents of hilarious verbal abuse directed at anyone in the vicinity — most often, his sidekick Starker. He wouldn't just tell a CONTROL agent that he was going to kill them; he had to insult them, as well!
Why is Siegfried so hostile, anyway? He claimed that he turned evil because, when he was a child, his mother wouldn't buy him a sled (!). But he also appeared to be a frustrated performer, besides. He has demonstrated some ability as a stage magician. During a nightclub gig as "Siegfried the Great", he kidnapped the Chief of CONTROL. He once posed as a defector to infiltrate CONTROL, then palmed knockout gas pellets into a conference of worldwide CONTROL chiefs, in an audacious attempt to kidnap them all for a huge ransom. And let's not forget the time he fooled Max and the Chief with the old gun in the rabbit trick! Needless to say, Siegfried's audiences weren't exactly entertained by these stunts, which might explain why he was never called back for repeat performances.
Siegfried also considered himself a convincing actor, despite the fact that his greatest role was merely a part in KAOS' production of The Killing of the Shrew. (KAOS doesn't stop at just "taming" the shrew, you see.) Which leads to another possible source of frustration....
His life apparently doesn't imitate art, for he seemed to be married to the kind of shrew he's couldn't even tame, let alone kill. He told Max that his wedding band is a "suicide ring", because his wife said that, if he ever took it off, she'd kill him. (This didn't stop him from hiring a gorgeous secretary named Lily, who can't even take dictation, so it seems doubtful that she was hired for her clerical skills!) Despite his innate rottenness and sneakiness, Siegfried was obviously henpecked — which could help explain why he vented his hostility on everyone else!
Even Max, no paragon of patience himself, once chided Siegfried for being so angrily impatient. This major vice gave him potential to be far funnier than the other KAOS characters.
Siegfried's Bully/Coward Complex
Most of the KAOS agents Max and 99 encountered were colorful, but one-dimensional; they were strictly bad guys out to do evil. In real life, however, evildoers seem to share one common trait that was missing from the average KAOS goon: they're usually bullies who are cowards, deep down. Siegfried definitely fell into this category. He verbally abused his associates as well as his enemies, and intimidated everyone with his volatile temper (backing up his threats with a loaded gun).
Yet, even though he was considerably taller (over six feet tall) and bigger than the 5'9" Maxwell Smart, he always had trouble holding his own against the tough little government agent in hand-to-hand combat. Whenever Max got the upper hand, Siegfried's cowardice came to the fore. He either fled, vowing revenge ("I shall return, Shmart!"), or if cornered, he would surrender in a nanosecond ("Three Spies In A Sub", "Snoopy Smart Versus The Red Baron").
A classic example of Siegfried's cowardice was in the episode "One Of Our Olives Is Missing". When Max had a gun trained on Siegfried and some of his henchmen, Siegfried boldly encouraged his men to draw their guns, because "he can only shoot one of us". Max cleverly retorted, "You're the one." Siegfried's brave front vanished in an instant, as he hurriedly amended, "Please, everybody, hands up...."
Nobody could carry a grudge quite like ol' Ziggy. He prided himself on the clever, dramatic ways he invented to dispose of his enemies. Merely shooting them was never good enough for him.
No, Siegfried had to plan things like shooting people out of torpedo tubes in a submarine, or forcing them to stand in synthetic sand (which envelops its victims faster than quicksand), or chopping them up in an airplane propeller before disposing of their remains from 18,000 feet. But this tendency to go overboard is Siegfried's Achilles' heel, for his elaborate, timed-release schemes invariably did nothing more than buy his enemies time to escape.
If only Siegfried had ever listened to Starker (who usually just wanted to shoot Max and 99, and be done with it), he could have killed his enemies at CONTROL many times over. So is Starker really as stupid as Siegfried claims? And is Siegfried really as clever as he thinks?
So...Does He Have ANY Redeeming Qualities?
Yes, but unfortunately, he's chosen to use them for rottenness instead of niceness. Siegfried didn't advance from mere "office boy and part-time killer" to being one of KAOS' top agents without being persistent and determined. He's very detail-oriented, a perfectionist who takes his work very seriously — which is why he gets so annoyed when Starker says or does something goofy (to which Siegfried angrily responds, "Ve don't [whatever] here!").
Siegfried also appears to be mechanically inclined. In the pursuit of evil, he has piloted many a vehicle — cars, planes, submarines, and on one occasion, a synthetic island with a huge outboard motor. He even built his own crop-dusting plane from a model kit, customizing it with the KAOS logo. When KAOS' nuclear-powered magnet stopped working, he was able to make it functional again, by giving the control panel a solid kick. (Imagine the damage he could have done, with a computer and the internet at his disposal...!)
And, treacherous though he may be, he is loyal to a fault to the evil people and causes he deems worthy. So loyal is he to KAOS, that he sold his own sister (the head of KAOS' ladies auxiliary) out to CONTROL for a mere $1500, as part of a plan to gain $10 million ransom for KAOS. And, despite the way he berates Starker, Siegfried has been joined at the hip with him since they were in the German armed forces together in WWII. So perhaps Siegfried realizes that Starker is a reliable sidekick.
Don't hold your breath waiting for him to admit it, though....
The first time Siegfried kidnapped Max and 99 was in Rub-A-Dub-Dub, Three Spies In A Sub
Before Starker started appearing on the show, Siegfried had various co-conspirators in crime. Here, in The Mysterious Dr. T, Ziggy relieves Max and 99 of their guns. Before he captures Dr. T and kills the two CONTROL agents, he advises them to "Eat, drink, und be merry."
When the role of Starker was being cast, Bernie Kopell lobbied hard to get the role for his good friend King Moody. Oddly enough, the powers-that-be were reluctant, thinking viewers would recognize Moody from his very small role as a KAOS hood in All In The Mind. (This, despite the fact that many actors played multiple parts in the series — even William Schallert!) But in the end, Moody was given the part, and KAOS had a new diabolical duo....
Siegfried and Starker tried a variety of dirty tricks, to lead government agents to their doom. Here, they're pretending that they left KAOS to join the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Siegfried and the WWI fighter plane he built, from a model kit he purchased from a small company in Argentina....
In 1989, when CONTROL was reactivated, Siegfried pretended to call for a truce — planning instead to shoot Max in cold blood.
Then in 1995, after the Cold War's end prompted KAOS to fire Siegfried and Starker, Ziggy didn't content himself with just going postal. He obtained a nuclear missile, intending to nuke one of America's major cities, to warm up the Cold War considerably. Then his daughter helped him kidnap Max and Zachary Smart, to make them watch his fiendish plan unfold, before he eliminated them. (The apple didn't fall far from the evil tree, did it...?)