Born the son of Baron Dmitri Harkonnen, Vladimir showed an early interest in attaining power, and was trained to become the heir to House Harkonnen, ahead of his more mild-mannered half-brother Abulurd. ==References and notes==
Leadership Style and Personality
Vladimir built upon the earlier success of his predecessors, gradually making House Harkonnen more successful through blackmail, sudifuge and treachery. Vladimir remained a bachelor, but managed to win over Glossu and Feyd-Rautha, the two sons of his half-brother. Thus he intended to continue his legacy.
However, his expectations in this sense were not easily achieved. He deemed Glossu too brutish and stupid to be an effective successor. And despite showering Feyd-Rautha with praise and the promise of eventual leadership, his hold over the cunning and impulsive youth remained tenuous.
In addition to blatant homosexual tendencies, Vladimir Harkonnen harbored other more destructive personal inclinations. He had a penchant for medical procedures that encouraged skin infections, and revelled in devising elaborate torture methods for his enemies. Additionally, he encouraged his morbidly obese body form and the health complications that went with it.
As a leader of a major house, Vladimir proved to be incredibly cruel. He had no qualms in using widespread torture, murder and slavery to maintain power. And though he was generally cunning, his arrogance and intense hatred of House Atreides proved to be his un-doing.
Connection to Paul Atreides
Despite never acknowledging a child as his own, Vladimir did indeed produce offspring, thanks to the Bene Gesserit's breading program. Unbeknonst to him, Vladimir was the biological father of Jessica Atreides, the official concubine of Duke Leto Atreides I. Thus he helped contribute genetically to Paul Atreides and the unravelling of his own House Harkonnen.
Death and Later Influence
Vladimir Harkonnen died during the defeat of House Harkonnen and Sardaukar forces at the hands of the Fremen on Arrakis in the year 10,193. While watching the looming Fremen forces he was poisoned with a Gom Jabbar, wielded by a young Alia Atreides.
However, Vladimir continued to influence events even after death, thanks to his presence in the Abomination mindset of Alia. However, the vengeful desires of the residual Vladimir Harkonnen persona proved fruitless due to Alia's eventual suicide.
Behind the Scenes
In the 1984 movie adaptation of Dune, Vladimir Harkonnen was played by Kenneth McMillan. In the 2000 Dune and 2003 Children of Dune mini-series the character was played by Ian McNeice.