Baron Vladimir Harkonnen (born 10,110, died 10,193) was the penultimate ruler of House Harkonnen, and the chief architect in the demise of Duke Leto Atreides I of House Atreides during the reign of Shaddam IV.
Born the son of Baron Dmitri Harkonnen and Victoria 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. During this time, his father served as head to the House Harkonnen and as Siridar and Baron of the planet Giedi Prime. ==References and notes==
Leadership Style and Personality
Vladimir built upon the earlier success of his predecessors, gradually making House Harkonnen more successful through blackmail, subterfuge 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 flaunted 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 breeding program. Unbeknownst 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.
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, his grand-daughter.
When he was killed by Alia, House Harkonnen passed to his na-Baron, Feyd-Rautha Harkonnon. He challenged Paul Atreides to a duel, which Paul won. After Paul defeated Feyd, House Harkonnen passed to the next living heir, the Lady Jessica, who declined the title. Paul then ruled that House Harkonnen passed to himself as the last living heir, and became subsumed into the throne.
However, death was not the end for Vladimir. Paul's sister, Alia, was born with her ancestral memories in the womb, including Vladimir himself. Alia fell victim to the Bene Gesserit prediction and initially shared control of her body with the Baron, gradually falling under his power. The vengeful desires of the residual Vladimir Harkonnen persona proved fruitless due to Alia's eventual success in overcoming her possession by suicide.
In approximately 15,244 A.G., Vladimir was resurrected as a ghola by the Lost Tleilaxu Uxtal at the bidding of the new generation of Face Dancers. He was decanted on Tleilax, but later moved by Khrone to Caladan to be raised by the Face Dancers. He was eventually given charge of a ghola of Paul Atreides, being told by Khrone that the Atreides ghola would be very important to their future plans.
The Baron's most notable feature was his corpulent frame. Vladimir's sheer weight required belt-mounted suspensors to retain mobility, which allowed him to float in midair from place-to-place, as he was unable to walk under his own power unassisted. The Baron's weight was attributed to gluttony and overindulgence.
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.