French postcard by E.D.U.G., presented by Les Carbones Korès Carboplane, no. 351. Photo: Gérard Neuvecelle.
From Russia with Love
Bob Holger Asklöf or Asklof was born in Motala, Sweden in 1942. From a young age on, he was always singing.
At 16, he left school and went to live in Stockholm. There he had singing and acting lessons. He was big, blonde and handsome and had an extraordinary voice. With the singing group The Glenners he went on tour.
At 19, he was spotted during a gig in Tel Aviv by Juliette Gréco, who invited him to come to Paris in December 1962. There, he became the winner of a contest organized by the record company Pathé-Marconi and the magazine Cinémonde.
His first hit in France was Vous souvenez-vous? (Do you remember?, 1963), and he became one of the yé-yé idols. Between 1963 and 1965, he recorded six ep’s and two albums.
One of his hits was Bons baisers de Russie, the French version of the title song of the film From Russia with Love (Terence Young, 1963). His version can be heard under the end titles in the French language version of the film.
In 1965, he participated at the festival de la Rose d'or d'Antibes (the Golden Rose festival of Antibes) and performed in France, Belgium and Switzerland.
Asklöf also sang in English, in German and Swedish. In between, he worked as a model for ads as for Sgigrand Covett clothes in 1964.
In 1965 and 1966, he recorded some songs in Sweden and made his film debut there as the young male lead in the Swedish-Danish erotic drama Ett sommaräventyr/Anna, My Darling (Håkan Ersgård, 1965).
Back in France, he played small parts in the films La Bande à Bonnot/Bonnot's Gang (Philippe Fourastié, 1968) with Jacques Brel, and the Hollywood production The Sergeant (John Flynn, 1969), which was filmed in France. The Sergeant is an interesting drama starring Rod Steiger and John Philip Law about repressed homosexuality in the army.
Asklöf had another part in Tout peut arriver/Don't Be Blue (1969), the first film by director Philippe Labro, and he played the lead as a G.I. in Vietnam in the short film Rosee du Matin (Jean Dasque, 1971), which was shown in the Quinzaine des Realisateurs section at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971.
He also played a hitman in Comptes à rebours/Countdown (Roger Pigaut, 1971) starring Serge Reggiani, and a killer in the adventure film Boulevard du Rhum/Rum Runners (Robert Enrico, 1971) with Lino Ventura and Brigitte Bardot.
French postcard by Editions Starama, no. S-856. Photo: Patrick De Mervellec.
French postcard by E.D.U.G., no. 350. Photo: Gérard Neuvecelle / Disques Columbia.
A Marxist sexploitation movie
Bob Asklöf’s acting career in France took a surprising direction during the 1970s.
In 1973 the former teen idol played the leading part in Les tentations de Marianne/Marianne’s Temptations (Francis Leroi, 1973).
At IMDb, Timothy Tangs notes: “Marianne’s Temptations is that rare bird - a Marxist sexploitation movie. Originally part of a Godard-like post-68 revolutionary film collective, cash-strapped Francis Leroi decided to exploit the current French vogue for arty skinflicks to fund the struggle. Casting a papal niece in the lead, the film made a fortune, and paved the way for Emmanuelle.“
Asklöf also had a role in Anna Karina's first attempt at writing and directing a film, Vivre ensemble/Living together (Anna Karina, 1973).
Asklöf was now much in demand for the sexploitation wave that splashed over the European cinema and he starred in soft core sex films like Quand les filles se déchaînent/Hot and Naked (Guy Maria, 1974), Les filles expertes/Expert Girls (Guy Maria, 1974) and Dora... la frénésie du plaisir/Dora ... the frenzy of pleasure (Willy Rozier, 1976) in which he was often shown full frontal nude.
His nom de plume in these films was Bob Holger. He kept appearing in small parts in mainstream films like the comedy C'est pas parce qu'on a rien à dire qu'il faut fermer sa gueule.../It is not because we have nothing to say that we must keep our mouth shut ... (Jacques Besnard, 1975) with Bernard Blier.
He also had a part in an episode of the popular TV series Les enquêtes du commissaire Maigret/The Investigations of Inspector Maigret (Jean Kerchbron, 1977) featuring Jean Richard as Maigret.
Asklöf appeared as a Nazi officer in Train spécial pour SS/Helltrain (Alain Payet, 1977). IMDb resumes the story as “The SS puts a slutty nightclub singer in charge of a train car full of prostitutes whose "services" are reserved solely for Adolf Hitler.”
This kind of Nazisploitation films were a bizarre and nasty subgenre of the soft core sex films of the 1970s. Big Willy and The Samurai at The Gentlemen’s blog to Midnite Cinema explain the subgenre: “These films typically showcase tons of skin (male and female) and sex, gruesome tortures, bloody violence, and humiliation. They are alternately set in brothels, prison camps, or a combination of the two.”
Asklöf also worked with director Serge Korber on films like Pornotissimo (1977). Korber mixed mainstream with adult films - credited as John Thomas.
One of Asklöf’s better sex films was Goodbye Emmanuelle (François Letterier, 1977) starring Sylvia Kristel. This third Emmanuelle episode tried to deal realistically with real-life, and potentially depressing issues like jealousy and abuse of women.
A reviewer at IMDb writes that in a way, Goodbye Emmanuelle marked the end of the free love era of the 1960s and 1970s. It also marked the end of Asklöf’s sex film career.
In 1977 he returned to Sweden, where he appeared in only one more film. He played ‘Gorilla’ in the thriller Flygnivå 450/Flight Level 450 (Torbjörn Axelman, 1980) with Thomas Hellberg. It was not a success.
He also did some stage work in Sweden, including a play about Edith Piaf, in which he interpreted her lover, boxer Marcel Cerdan.
In the 1980s, he left the acting profession to devote himself to his passion for painting and he had several exhibitions in Sweden. He also wrote poems and stories, which were never published.
After a long illness, Bob Asklöf died of cancer in 2011 in Bromma, Stockholm, Sweden.
Bob Asklöf sings I Who Have Nothing in a Swedish TV show. Source: Lesoufs (YouTube).
Bob Asklöf sings les grands boulevards in a French TV show in 1964. Source: Jcdesaintdenis (YouTube).
Sources: Official Bob Asklof blog, The Gentlemen’s blog to Midnite Cinema, French Films, Wikipedia (French), and IMDb.