Czech actors: Fifties and sixties (1948-1970)
The fifties and sixties were the age of the great generation of Czech actors like Rudolf Hrušínský, Miloš Kopecký, Vlastimil Brodský or Vladimír Menšík. And we can't forget Jan Werich, who returned from the overseas. If we look at the list of the biggest film hits below, in the fifties it was utterly dominated by fairy-tales (5 out of the top 10 titles and 4 out of the top 5), a new film genre in Czech cinema, whose birth is closely tied with the figure of director Bořivoj Zeman. After him a lot of other filmmakers tried to succeed on this field and, fortunately, often they were not too worse.
- PYŠNÁ PRINCEZNA (The Proud Princess, dir. B. Zeman 1952) - 8 222 695 spectators
- BYL JEDNOU JEDEN KRÁL (Once Upon A Time There Was A King, dir. B. Zeman 1954) - 5 914 257
- PRINCEZNA SE ZLATOU HVĚZDOU (The Princess With The Golden Star, dir. M. Frič 1959) - 5 033 874
- STRAKONICKÝ DUDÁK (The Piper From Strakonice, dir. K. Steklý 1955) - 4 567 494
- DOVOLENÁ S ANDĚLEM (Holidays With Anděl, dir. B. Zeman 1952) - 4 259 875
- KRÁL ŠUMAVY (The King Of Šumava, dir. K. Kachyňa 1959) - 4 100 916
- HRÁTKY S ČERTEM (Playing With The Devil, dir. J. Mach 1956) - 4 038 676
- DOBRÝ VOJÁK ŠVEJK (The Good Soldier Švejk, dir. K. Steklý 1956) - 3 950 722
- ANDĚL NA HORÁCH (Anděl In The Mountains, dir. B. Zeman 1955) - 3 788 716
- CIRKUS BUDE (There Will Be A Circus, dir. O. Lipský 1954) - 3 740 959
- LIMONÁDOVÝ JOE (Lemonade Joe, dir. O. Lipský 1964) - 4 556 352 spectators
- KDYBY TISÍC KLARINETŮ (If One Thousand Clarinets, dir. J. Roháč+Vladimír Svitáček 1964) - 4 065 720
- STARCI NA CHMELU (Old Men On Hops, dir. L. Rychman 1964) - 2 975 163
- ŠÍLENĚ SMUTNÁ PRINCEZNA (The Princess Sad Like Crazy, dir. B. Zeman 1968) - 2 903 864
- SVĚTÁCI (The Worldlings, dir. Z. Podskalský 1969) - 2 836 686
- KLADIVO NA ČARODĚJNICE (The Witchhammer, dir. O. Vávra 1969) - 2 657 920
- LÁSKY JEDNÉ PLAVOVLÁSKY (Loves Of A Blonde, dir. M. Forman 1965) - 2 255 858
- AŽ PŘIJDE KOCOUR (When The Cat Comes, dir. V. Jasný 1963) - 1 991 428
- OSTŘE SLEDOVANÉ VLAKY (Closely Watched Trains, dir. J. Menzel 1966) - 1 913 724
- PANE, VY JSTE VDOVA! (Sir, You Are A Widow!, dir. V. Vorlíček 1970) - 1 862 463
The sixties are a time, when the situation in the country loosened and a lot of young directors began to make various artistic experiments ("The Czech New Wave") and several internationally successful titles came into being (including Closely Watched Trains and The Shop On The Main Street that won an Oscar). I won't deal with this topic in a detailed way, because it is sufficiently described on the specialized page CZECH CINEMA. One of the reasons is also the fact that many of these "New Wave experiments" are not according to my gust. In fact, to me some of them they look like pushing amateurish attempts with banal stories. Similarly, if I didn't know that Closely Watched Trains won an Oscar, it would never occured to me that this movie would be worth mentioning. But the taste of film critics and other film spectators may be different. Except these experimental attempts I must draw the attention to the work of two beginning directors, Oldřich Lipský and Václav Vorlíček, whose enormously successful career peaked during the seventies. Notice also the decreasing number of spectators after the start of TV in 1953. While Lemonade Joe is the king of the sixties, such a number of spectators wouldn't be enough for reaching the Top 4 in the fifties. And during the seventies the most successful titles didn't overcome 3 million spectators.
Rudolf Hrušínský sen. (II)
- Vladimír Menšík
- Radovan Lukavský
- Radoslav Brzobohatý
- Jana Brejchová
- Olga Schoberová
- Květa Fialová
- Stella Zázvorková
- Jiřina Jirásková
- Jan Libíček
Miloš Kopecký (22. 8. 1922 - 16. 2. 1996)
Miloš Kopecký is perhaps my favourite of all Czech actors. He was born in Prague, where his father owned furriery. As Kopecký remembered in interviews, he didn't like his father, because he was "a bourgeois with a tendency towards antisemitism". His mother was of Jewish origin and during the World War II his father left her, because he was afraid that he would lost his business licence. She eventually ended in a concentration camp, where she died. This frustrating experience undoubtedly influenced Kopecký's psychical health. Kopecký himself studied at high school, but was forced to leave it because of bad results. Later he served out as a furrier, but again, he didn't finish it. He loved cinema, theatre and literature, and during the occupation worked in a young theatre group called Tvar. After the end of the war he was one of the young actors, who founded a new theatre called Větrník. Here he also encountered his first wife, Stella Zázvorková. In September 1945, he became a professional actor, and gradually began as a performer of "saloon types", free-livers and also posh baddies. At that time he was attracted by communistic ideas and entered the communistic party, but later (1954) was expelled, allegedly due to "weak engagment". During 50's he changed several other stages and eventually stayed in the theatre ABC at Jan Werich. In 1965 he again moved, this time to the theatre Na Vinohradech, where he acted until the end of his career.
Kopecký's first noticeable role was a corrupt chancellor, who eventually ends in prison, in the enormously popular fairy-tale Pyšná princezna (The Proud Princess, 1952). From this time I should also list Lipský's comedy Cirkus bude (There Will Be A Circus, 1954), where he together with Lubomír Lipský shined in a funny sketch of two clowns (the so-called "Duo papato"). In 1954 he also acted in another successful fairy-tale, Byl jednou jeden král (Once Upon A Time There Was A King), where he got a role of the "Clever Prince", who competes for royal daughters, but eventually steals the royal treasure. In 1955 he performed a Czech nobleman fighting against Žižka near Sudoměř in the second part of Vávra's hussite trilogy (Jan Žižka), then he appeared as a notoriously drunked priest Katz in Dobrý voják Švejk (Good Soldier Švejk, 1956) and in 1961 he got his first title roles: baron Prášil (Munchausen) in Zeman's fantastic movie of the same name, and upholsterer Josef, who unwillingly travels into the future in Lipský's sci-fi comedy Muž z prvního století (The Man From The 1st Century). In 1964 director Lipský casted him into a western parody Limonádový Joe (The Lemonade Joe), where he performed insidious desperado Hogofogo. This was undoubtedly one of his life's roles. By the way, Kopecký performed this role as early as several years before in the theatre ABC.
In the second half of the 60's Kopecký became one of the most frequently casted comedial actors and the list of his roles would be very large. From his most important I must list an incapable communistic boss in a banned satire Bílá paní (The White Lady, 1965), the king Johann of Luxembourg in a historical comedy Slasti Otce vlasti (The Delight Of The Land's Father, 1969), an indebted philanderer in another comedy Slaměný klobouk (The Straw Hat, 1971), doctor Somr, who can transplant human brains in Vorlíček's crazy comedy Pane, vy jste vdova! (Sir, You Are A Widow!, 1971), the Bavarian duke in Podskalský's musical Noc na Karlštejně (A Night At The Karlštejn Castle, 1973), or Mr. Wassermann, the head of all Czech water sprites in Vorlíček's fantastic comedy Jak utopit doktora Mráčka (How To Drown Doctor Mráček, 1974). During the 70's he also collaborated with director Schulhoff, who casted him into his satirical comedy Zítra to roztočíme, drahoušku...! (Yesterday We Will Get All Wheels Moving, Honey...!, 1976) about narrow-minded quarreels of two neighbouring families, and later into another satire Já už budu hodný, dědečku! (I Will Be Good, Old Man!, 1978) about a cynical actor, who makes cruel jokes of people around, but eventually is punished by an old magician and must pass through the same troubles that he previously did to others. By the way, it is funny that in the former movie he encountered his first wife Stella Zázvorková, who performed his wife here, and the wedding photograph hanging in their flat was the photograph from their real wedding. In 1977 he got another very good opportunity from director Lipský and shined as diabolic scientist baron von Kratzmar in a parody on dime novels about American superdetective Nick Carter Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adéla Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet). In the same year he was casted into a new TV serial of screenwriter Jaroslav Dietl Nemocnice na kraji města (The Hospital In The Outskirts Of The Town), where he performed doctor Štrosmajer - which is undoubtedly his most known role. The serial soon became the most successful project in the history of the Czech TV and Kopecký also acted in the second series (1981), where Dietl let him die of heart failure. The last part of this series, where he was dying, held a historical record in TV rating in Germany until 1986.
During this time he also got several serious dramatic roles like an old lawyer in Causa králík (The Case Rabbit, 1979) and especially a professor of art fighting cancer in Prodloužený čas (The Prolonged Time, 1984). In mid 80's he also publicly came out against the communistic regime. After his retirement he occassionally collaborated on TV serials or movies (e. g. Andělské oči/The Angelic Eyes, 1994; Život na zámku/Life At The Palace, 1995).
During his whole life Kopecký displayed a big weakness for women and the number of his mistresses would be innumerable. He was (at least) four times married (one source even speaks about a fifth marriage during WW II). His early marriages lasted for a very short time. Once he also lived with the director Věra Chytilová. Only the last marriage, with ballet dancer Jana Křečková, has survived more than 30 years, although it was probably due to huge patience of his wife, because Kopecký didn't stop his love adventures. He said her that "he needed women like air and sun", and she forgave him, because otherwise he was a very careful father. His friends spoke about him like about a posh, clever man. Among other things he also published stories and short essays, and was a passionate reader. The end of his life was very sad. As late as after his death it turned out that for almost his whole life Kopecký suffered from maniodepressive psychosis and before his death he was in a very bad condition. When he once acted in TV, he was allegedly disoriented and wasn't able to perceive, what happens around him. His death was a big loss for the whole Czech cinema, because there will never be too many such excellent actors like him.
As Baron Prášil (The Fabulous Baron Munchausen, 1961) together with Jan Werich (on the right) ...and as desperado Hogo Fogo in Limonádový Joe (The Lemonade Joe, 1964) However, Kopecký's life's role was doctor Štrosmayer in a TV serial Nemocnice na kraji města. On the right Ladislav Chudík as doctor Sova
Vlastimil Brodský (15. 12. 1920 - 20. 4. 2002)
Vlastimil Brodský belonged to the greatest Czech actors of all time. He also died as one of the last members of the post-war generation. His actor's career began in the experimental school of E. F. Burian and later in the theatre Větrník that came into being after WW II. His first film roles were not important; for example, he performed one of the unhappy students of the rebellious bachelor in Vávra's historical comedy Nezbedný bakalář (The Prankish Bachelor, 1946) and as late as in 1953 he got the first more important part of doctor Kazdera, a colleague of dr. Jánský (the discoverer of blood groups) in Tajemství krve (The Mystery Of Blood). During the 50's he performed a couple of more or less remarkable roles, especially in comedies. In 1958 he started a successful collaboration with director Podskalský, who gave him the first noticeable title role in a comedy Mezi nebem a zemí (Between Heaven And Earth), where he performed a shy clerk, who courageously stands up to his unpopular chief after he finds out that he will soon die. In 1959 he performed a castellan in another comedy Kam čert nemůže (Where The Devil Can't Enter). Here he successfully stood by his actor's colleague Jiří Sovák, with whom he later acted in a lot of cheerful movies. From the sixties I must list another role of a castellan in a comedy Bílá paní (The White Lady, 1965), which was a poisonous satire on the incapability of communistic bosses in a little town, who must rely on magic abilities of the miraculous spirit of the White Lady from a neighbouring castle. No wonder, that this title later ended in a safe for twenty years. Two years before, in 1963, he performed a good-hearted teacher in Jasný's satire Až přijde kocour (When The Cat Comes) about a magic cat, whose look can reveal the right character of people. Again, this movie was later banned by the regime. From the middle of the 60's there must also be listed his Nazi director Zednicek, a grotesque figure from Menzel's Oscar movie Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains, 1966). In 1967 director Menzel casted him in one of his most known titles, Rozmarné léto (The Moody Summer), where he performed one of three friends, who spent a rainy summer in a spa town. In 1969 he got another chance from director Podskalský and performed one of pushing bricklayers, who want to appeal to three prostitutes in Světáci (The Worldlings).
Since the end of the 60's and during the 70's he began to appear in movies together with his new wife, Jana Brejchová. After a comedy Ženu ani květinou neuhodíš (You Can't Hit A Woman By A Flower, 1966) they acted in Podskalský's black comedy Ďábelské líbánky (The Diabolic Honeymoon, 1970) about a famous scientist, who is seduced by two women. After one of them dies during a bomb explosion, he closes a marriage with the second one, but later he finds out that she caused the death of her rival and during their honeymoon his new wife tries to kill him at any cost to blind a trail of her crime. Three years later (1973) he performed the emperor Charles IV. in Podskalský's medieval musical Noc na Karlštejně (A Night At The Karlštejn Castle), where Jana Brejchová performed his wife. And I shouldn't forget Schulhoff's comedy Hodíme se k sobě, miláčku? (Can We Match, Darling?, 1974) about a married couple that looks for a solution of their seemingly unhappy relationship with the help of a computer. His most remarkable part from the seventies is Jakub lhář (Jakob der Lügner/Jacob The Liar, 1974), an East German drama from the WW II that got international prizes.
During the 70's and 80's he also performed a lot of beautiful roles in TV. His most known part of this time is undoubtedly the king in Vorlíček's fairy-tale serial Arabela (1979). He also appeared in Polák's famous serial Pan Tau (Mr. Tau, the series from 1978), where he performed air inspector Málek, who is possessed by the idea to catch a mysterious man from the air wing. Further, he acted in a TV drama Tažní ptáci, a continuation of Ikarův pád (Ikaros' Fall), where he performed a patient of an addicts rehabilitation centre, who tempts his seemingly healed friend (performed by Vladimír Menšík). In the beginning of the 90's he again performed the king in Arabela II (1994), but the whole project was virtually a failure. His last big TV role was an old professor of history, who is terrorized by his imperious wife, in Život na zámku (The Life At The Palace, 1995-1999), the most successful serial project of the 90's. In the end of the 90's his big admirer, actor and singer Ondřej Havelka, filmed a special film medallion devoted to his long actor's career called Drahý Vlastimilený Brodský (Dear, Loved by the Country, Brodský). The movie contained short sequences from his most known movies and was interrupted by Brodský's humorous monologues and sketches.
In the end of his life Brodský was obviously afraid of the nearing death and although he often joked about it, the depression of this fact was visible on him. Paradoxically, in 2001 director Michálek gave him a big opportunity in his bitter comedy Babí léto (The Autumn Summer), which was a story about an old joker, who wants to enjoy the last days of his life, and makes troubles to his wife, who spends all the time by saving money for their funeral and choosing a place for depositing the coffins. It is another paradox that this title went through cinema houses almost unnoticed, but subsequently celebrated big success abroad, surprisingly even in the United States, where it won a respected film festival of humour. I myself was surprised, when I saw it on TV, because it was an unbelievably good and humorous movie. However, the cool acceptance by (mainly) young spectators is quite expectable, because who of them would watch a movie about pensionists?
Although it seemed that Brodský would wait to get another good opportunities and he would even live to enjoy a ride in an American limousine (which the success of Babí léto suggested), the end of his life came sooner as anybody would expect. In April 2002 he spent time at his cottage in the countryside and after a dinner in a restaurant he returned back home and killed himself by a revolver. I don't know, what was actually the reason of this decision, but it is possible that the creators of Babí léto underestimated his real attitude to death, which was virtually much more pesimistic than it seemed. One comment on imdb.com also lists cancer (even as the cause of his death), but I don't know, where they got to this information.
Vlastimil Brodský has two children; his son Marek Brodský (from the first marriage) studied documentary or animated movie (?) at the dramatic academy in Prague, but during the 80's he occassionally appeared in movies or TV serials (Rozpuštěný a vypuštěný/Dissolved And Efused, 1984; Křeček v noční košili/Hamster In The Night Shirt etc.). However, he obviously didn't inherit Brodský's actor's talent. His daughter Tereza (Brodská; from the marriage with Jana Brejchová) was much more successful. In fact, during the 90's she became one of the most respected Czech actresses (e. g. Konec básníků v Čechách/The End Of Poets In Bohemia, 1994; Dvojrole/The Double Role, 1999).
Vlastimil Brodský with his longtime partner - Jana Brejchová - during filming Ženu ani květinou neuhodíš (You Can't Hit A Woman With A Flower, 1966). Vlastimil Brodský with his daughter Tereza (Brodská) at Tereza's wedding
Jana Brejchová (20.1. 1940)
The "big socialistic star" was born in an ordinary family of a driver and a shop assistant (Well, her family was ordinary except the fact that she had five siblings.) When she was 13, she was "discovered" in one basic school by a film assistant, who was looking for children's roles into director Sequens' movie Olověný chléb (Steel Bread, 1953) dealing with tragic consequences of a student's manifestation in 1930. She was obviously attracted by the work in cinema and later appeared even in some other films (against the will of her own parents). After finishing school she began to work as a secretary, but soon was chosen by director Blumenfeld, who prepared a criminal drama Pavouk (The Spider, 1956), which was her first big role. Yet it was a total failure due to her limited actor's experience. However, Brejchová didn't give up and director Jiří Weiss casted her into a drama Vlčí jáma (The Wolf's Hole, 1957), where she performed a fosterdaughter, who naively falls in love with her new stepfather suffering from tyranny of his wife. Her performance here was excellent and other opportunities followed. After a drama Morálka paní Dulské (The Morality Of Mrs Dulská, 1958) she got a prize for the best actor's performance of the year and her star began to shine like a meteor - which was an unusual development in the regime, in which she lived, and which was allergic to the idolization in the western style. But the truth is that her popularity exploded in a manner that was unknown in Czech cinema and has remained unsurpassed even until now. Her name even appeared in one popular song of that time that is, by the way, contained in the Renč's recent musical Rebelové (The Rebels, 2001).
There would be many roles that could be listed from this time, but my personal favourite is Krejčík's drama Vyšší princip (Higher Principle, 1960). For this role she got a prize at the international festival in Locarno. She also appeared in a largely mute role of Bianca in Zeman's Baron Prášil (Baron Munchausen, 1961). Soon she began to appear even abroad, especially in Western Germany, where she filmed Zámek Gripsholm (The Castle Gripsholm, 1963). Although this movie was a comedy, directors casted her especially into complicated dramatic roles. In 1965 she got a prize at Berlinale for the role of a Jewish girl in a German movie Dům v Kaprové ulici (The House In Kaprová Street). The change came in late 60's, where she became a predominantly comedial actress, mainly due to her marriage with Vlastimil Brodský and the fact that some of her court directors were forced to leave Barrandov Studios after 1968. Together with Brodský they acted in several good comedies that were written specially for them (see above). An exception is a criminal ballad Smrt černého krále (The Death Of The Black King, 1970), where Brejchová performed Brodský's daughter. Brejchová alone acted in Vorlíček's sci-fi Zabil jsem Einsteina, pánové (I Killed Einstein, Gentlemen, 1969).
The filming with Brodský ended in mid 70's (for their common appearances, see above), when they were divorced (Ironically, it was shortly after a comedy Can We Match Darling? that relates about a matrimonial crisis). Since then she began to appear in dramatic roles, and collaborated with director Jiří Svoboda, who was once her teenager's admirer. In 1987 she appeared in a drama Citlivá místa (Sensitive Places) together with her daughter Tereza. Since that time she has appeared in cinema or TV only rarely, but recently agreed to act in Jan Hřebejk's new movie Kráska v nesnázích (The Beauty In Troubles), where she will perform mother of Anna Geislerová.
The private life of Jana Brejchová could be compared with the life of a certain Hollywood actress (E. T.), her contemporary. She was four times married: the first marriage with Miloš Forman (an unknown director then) was concluded in 1957, but crashed in 1961 due to Forman's love affair. Her second marriage with German actor Ulrich Thein lasted only one year. The third marriage with Vlastimil Brodský lasted 17 years and its result was Tereza Brodská (*1968). Since late 70's she lived with Jaromír Hanzlík and this relationship lasted 13 years. Since 1997 she has been married for actor Jiří Zahajský. Unfortunately, in 2007 he died from cancer, so she is again alone.
With Ivan Mistrík in Vyšší princip (Higher Principle, 1960).
...and together with her husband Vlastimil Brodský in Noc na Karlštejně (1973)
Josef Somr (15.4. 1934)
Josef Somr was born in a village Vracov near Kyjov in south Moravia. His father was a railwayman, but Somr decided for dramatic art. He studied in Brno and graduated in 1956. After changing several theathres he moved to Prague (1965), where he started to play in the theatre Činoherní klub. His first episode role came in 1964 and one year later he took an offer of his friend, director Jiří Menzel, to perform a railwayman (what an irony!) in Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely Watched Trains, 1965). This Oscar movie opened his very successful film career. Somr usually performed negative roles of crude baddies, criminals and cheats, but he often did it with irony and a sense of humour. From memory I can list a crude drunker in Smrt černého krále (The Death of the Black King, 1971), a teacher in Páni kluci (Boys The Masters, 1975) and in a students' trilogy of Dušan Klein Jak básníci...I-III (1982-1987), a South American stock farmer in a comedy Což takhle dát si špenát (What About Taking Spinage, 1977), the chief of the hospital in Nemocnice na kraji města (The Hospital In The Outskirts Of The Town, 1978-1981) or a high school professor in Klein's poetic pentalogy (1982-2004). Since the end of 70's he played in the National theatre in Prague. In 1994 he had to overcome serious health troubles, but after one year he again returned to his profession and still appears in movies, especially on TV.
Vladimír Pucholt (30.12. 1942)
Vladimír Pucholt must be listed here, although his film career was very short (1962-1967). However, he was an outstanding young actor, one of the greatest talents in the history of Czech cinematography. After children's roles like Návštěva z oblak (A Visit from the sky, 1955), Vzorný kinematograf Haška Jaroslava (An exemplary cinematograph of Hašek Jaroslav, 1955) or Brankář bydlí v naší ulici (A Goalman lives in our street, 1957) and several other parts he performed a fatal role of a young apprentice in Miloš Forman's début Černý Petr (The Black Petr, 1962), which was a real break in his life. Pucholt demonstrated a characterful comedial talent and although his role was not leading, he overshadowed even featured performers. He became a prototype of free-hearted, idealistic youngsters or naive puzzleheads. In 1964 he got perhaps his best role of an idealistic youngster, who has controversy with his teachers in a musical Starci na chmelu (Old men on hops). Forman used him even in another movies, from which I must list Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde, 1965). In the same year he featured as a good-hearted soldier in Souhvězdí Panny (The constellation of the Virgin) and graduated at the dramatic academy. Then he started to play in the theatre Činoherní klub in Prague. In 1967 he crated an amazing figure of a simple-minded young policeman in Svatba jako řemen (untranslatable). After the August events in 1968 Pucholt decided to emmigrate, because he was too high-principled a man and the atmosphere in the society caused him "immense heartsickness". He lived in England at director Lindsay Anderson and in 1969 he acted in a movie Malatesta and subsequently got an award for the best episode role in it. Then he decided to realize one of his big dreams - to graduate in medicine. In 1975 he successfully finished his study and after another 7 years went to Canada, where he worked as a pediatrist. Today he is married and has two children. Several years ago director Vojtěch Jasný tried to get him a new chance in his movie Návrat ztraceného ráje (The Return of the Lost Paradise), but the film was not too successful and Pucholt's part was a shadow of his former charm.
Vladimír Pucholt in Starci na chmelu (1964) ...and as a naive young policeman in Svatba jako řemen (1967), his last film role in Czechoslovakia
Václav Neckář (23.10. 1943)
Neckář was more known as a singer than an actor. He was born in Ústí nad Labem in a family of actor and singer Václav Dubský (which was a pseudonyme). Four times he failed in his effort to get to the Prague dramatic academy, so he worked as an occasional actor in theatre, at first in Most, then in Plzeň and eventually (1965) in Prague. Here he succeeded as a pop-singer and ended in the 3rd place in the national singing inquiry. The Fortune also turned to him in cinema: he was chosen for the title role in Menzel's movie Ostře sledované vlaky (Closely watched trains, 1966), where he performed a young diffident railman, who eventually dies during a brave partisan action against a Nazi train. The movie got an Oscar and Neckář became both a singing and a movie star. During the second half of the sixties and in the beginning of the seventies he enjoyed huge popularity in the country.
Václav Neckář in spring 2003, after his return from the hospital
As an actor (or a singing actor) he acted in several another movies, from which I must list his prince in a fairly-tale Šíleně smutná princezna (The Princess Sad like Crazy, 1968) and Pavel Hvězdář in a banned movie Skřivánci na niti (Larks On The Thread, 1969), whose premiere was as late as in 1990 (the movie got the Golden Bear at the festival in Berlin). This movie also meant the end of his film career. As a singer he created a trio called the Golden Kids (together with Helena Vondráčková and Marta Kubišová), but they ended, when Kubišová was forced to give up her career because of her critique of the communistic regime. Neckář then became a solo singer with his band Bacily, and during the seventies he performed minor parts (e. g. an inventor in a historical bitter comedy Pan Vok odchází/Lord Vok is coming away, 1979). His last remarkable LP was published in the end of the eighties. After many years it seemed that he could celebrate a comeback, but just during the time he began to suffer from enormous obesity that brought serious problems to him. When he once appeared on TV, everybody thought that he would be seriously ill. His former colleague Vondráčková even called him "a fat pig". Eventually in November 2002 he had cerebral apoplexy and after his return from a hospital he was forced to find the way to a fitness center, which helped him in losing 30 kg. Although he still has problems with speaking, he doesn't want to stop his promising comeback and prepares for new performances.
Václav Neckář is still a very kindly, free-hearted man (although a little bit lazy). He has a lot of wonderful songs, especially from his "golden era" (1965-1975), and today some singers again began to revive them and make their remakes. His famous song Stín katedrál (The Shadow Of The Cathedrals) was the title melody of Renč's recent successful musical Rebelové (The Rebels, 2001).
Olga Schoberová (15.3. 1943)
Olga Schoberová is a rare example of a post-war Czech actor, whose popularity reached an international formate. She dreamed of becoming a ballet-dancer, but her plans didn't come true because of health troubles. After elementary school she worked as a secretary and her film career actually started by chance: her older sister, who was a model girl, asked her for substituting at a renowned photographer. The pictures got to the director of a prepared musical Bylo nás deset (We Were Ten, 1963), who allegedly had to go for her to her house in person, because she refused the offered role due to bashfulness. After this opportunity she flashed through Bláznova kronika (The Clown's Chronicle, 1964) and in the same year she virtually reached the top of her career in the Czech cinema thanks to the role of angelic Winnifred Goodman in a legendary western parody Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe, 1964) that opened her an imaginary gate abroad. The "Czech Brigitte Bardot" got one film offer after another and under a pseudonyme "Olinka Bérová" she worked in Austria, Italy, Germany and England, where she was introduced to Prince Charles. During this time she also made several decent photographs for Playboy.
The total number of her movies is allegedly 25. From this number, the vast majority was made during a very short time between 1964-1970, which means that she must have been really extremely busy. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of her foreign titles and I suppose that not all of them were first-rate. I can only list the most known of them by name: Zlatokopové z Arkansasu (Die Goldsucher von Arkansas/The Golddigers From Arkansas, 1964), Tajemství čínského karafiátu (Das Geheimnis der chinesischen Nelke/The Secret Of The Chinese Carnation, 1964), Její pomsta (The Vengeance Of She, 1968), Lucrezia Borgia (1968). In the Czech cinema she especially shined as comics girl Jessie in Vorlíček's parody of comics stories Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (Who Wants To Kill Jessie?, 1965), as film star Molly in Pane, vy jste vdova! (Mister, you are a widow!, 1970) and as a treacherous chamber-maid in Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adéla hasn't had her dinner yet, 1977). This was actually her last important film role. The IMDb database even lists Vrak (The Wreck, 1983), a co-production movie based on a novel of R. L. Stevenson. During the 90's she allegedly appeared in Jakubisko's movie Dovidenia v pekle, priatelia (See You In The Hell, Friends) that had been semi-finished as early as in 1970.
Olga Schoberová was twice married. In 1964 she met her first husband, Brad Harris and moved to the United States. From this marriage she has one daughter Sabrina. Soon after they were divorced and Olga found a more attractive man - John Calley, the president of Warner Bros (today's president of Sony Pictures). With him she moved to Beverly Hills and enjoyed a very luxurious life. By the way, the number of cars, ships and airplanes that Calley named after her, was allegedly innumerable. I have also read that during the 60's she refused an attractive contract from Hollywood, but so far I don't know, where to place it chronologically. She allegedly did it because of the studios' demand to be obligated them for seven years (Jan Werich later commented it: "You are so stupid! Either you would be a star or they would send you home!").
In any case, her film carrer actually ended up in 1970, because her husband was too engaged in the film business and she wanted to care of her little daughter, who now works as a producer and designer in the United States. After 20 years spent in the United States Olga found her second home in Antibes in France, but in the beginning of the 90's she decided to find a house to Prague. (So far it is not clear to me, what's actually her relationship with Calley. As far as I remember, one source said that they were divorced, but other source only speaks about their interrupted contacts.) During the 90's she changed living in Los Angeles with occassional staying in Prague, but recently she moved to Prague for good and lives in an apartment in the Prague center together with her old mother. According to one article she still cares of herself, likes visiting theatre and meeting with her old friends.
Olga Schoberová has ever impressed by her angelic look and watching her movies is always a pleasant experience.
Complete filmography: www.imdb.com
Detailed anthropometry here
A recent photograph of Olga Schoberová
A picture (several years old) of Olga Schoberová, her daughter Sabrina and her parents (her father has already died)
Some other actors in short:
Josef Hlinomaz (9.10.1914-8.8. 1978)
A frequent inventaire of Czech comedies from early 50's to mid 70's. After World War II he began in Prague theatres and soon created many minor, but unforgettable figures in movies, especially caricatures of badmen, criminals or gangsters - the tax collector in Pyšná princezna (Proud Princess, 1952), gunman Gripo in Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe, 1964), Mr Gogo in Čtyři vraždy stačí, drahoušku (Four Murders Are Enough, Darling, 1970) or dr Chocholoušek's employee in Jáchyme, hoď ho do stroje (Jáchym, Put It Into The Machine, 1974). His life ended unexpectedly during bathing in the sea in Yugoslavia. By the way, he was also known as a painter and a creator of a new style that he called "surneonaivism".
Alena Vránová (30.7. 1932)
"The proud princess" of Czech cinema, forever unforgettable. But the role that she shot during 1st grade at the dramatic academy in 1952 also stigmaticized her career. Besides that, her unsettled private life in early 50's (two marriages, two divorces) didn't add a positive image to her. Although she belonged to the most frequently casted young actresses of 50's (Hrátky s čertem/Playing With The Devil, 1954; Ztracenci/The Lost, 1956), she gradually dribbled out during 60's, when both her look and actor's display began to change dramatically. Since 70's she has almost exclusively appeared in roles of cold, emancipated women with deep, coarse voice (although many times it was in movies of comedial sort). Although she is more than 70 now, she still looks well and from time to time appears in film or TV projects (e.g. Šteindler's comedy Thanks For Every Good Morning, 1994, or a TV serial Ulice/The Street, 2005).
Karel Effa (23.5. 1922-11.6. 1993)
A man, whose prominent physiognomy was a consequence of a traffic accident during his childhood. Originally he was a soldier and fought in the World War II, but due to a recommendation of his friends he got a little role in a movie Uloupená hranice (The Stolen Border, 1947). Although it was a dramatic part, paradoxically, it started his career as a comedial actor. Although his roles were mostly episode, his big crooked nose is unforgettable for every spectator of many top Czech comedies: the guard of the royal treasure in Pyšná princezna (Proud Princess, 1952), gunman Pancho Kid in Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe, 1964), a jealous noble in Bláznova kronika (The Jester's Tale, 1964), a gunman in Kdo chce zabít Jessii? (Who Wants To Kill Jessie?, 1966) or an one-legged spy in Adéla ještě nevečeřela (Adéla Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet, 1977).
Vladimír Ráž (1.7. 1923 - 4.7. 2000)
The "king Miroslav" was a natural performer of lovers and idealistic figures. His first film role (Alena, 1947) came during his study at the conservatoire in Prague. His golden age were the fifties, when he performed such roles like dr Jánský, the discoverer of blood groups in Tajemství krve (The Mystery Of Blood, 1953), young hussite Tomeš in the last two parts of the hussite trilogy (1956-1957), a fisherman, who falls in love with princess Maruška in Byl jednou jeden král (Once Upon A Time There Was A KIng, 1955), or medieval rebel Ján Sladký-Kozina in Psohlavci (The Dogheads, 1955). From the sixties I must list a TV serial Sňatky z rozumu (1968). In mid 70's he performed dr Veselý in the unfamously famous serial Třicet případů majora Zemana (Thirty Cases Of Major Zeman, 1974-1978). He was also an excellent dubber and lent his charismatic voice to Lex Barker in the movies about Vinnetou.
Waldemar Matuška (3.7. 1932)
was the Czech singer Number One...before Karel Gott appeared on the scene in early 60's. His beginnings were somewhat complicated; he left his job in a glass-house and gradually changed several music groups and theatres, until he got engagment in the theatre Semafor (1960). He had a lot of big hits then and soon began to be casted in musicals and comedies: gunman Coyote Banjo Kid in Limonádový Joe (Lemonade Joe, 1964), Patrik in Kdyby tisíc klarinetů (If One Thousand Clarinets, 1964), mysterious Manuel Diaz in Fantom Morrisvillu (The Phantom Of Morrisville, 1966), Zášínek in Všichni dobří rodáci (All Good Natives, 1968), the Cyprian king in Noc na Karlštejně (A Night At The Karlštejn Castle, 1973), or a game-keeper watching his daughters in the musical parody Trhák (The Hit, 1980). In mid 80's he packed his wife and son and emmigrated to USA, for which he was sharply critized in the communistic media.
Čestmír Řanda (5.12. 1923-31.8. 1986)
A frequently casted actor since early 60's. He performed both dramatic and comedial roles, usually arrogant egocentrics and wrongdoers, but also unmanly bootlickers, cowards or swindlers. His first big role came in Vláčil's drama Ďáblova past (The Devil's Trap, 1961) and since then the list is almost innumerable. From memory I can name dr Tomeček in the satire Bílá paní (The White Lady, 1965), passionate general Otis in Pane, vy jste vdova (Sir, You Are A Widow, 1970), an unfaithful German watersprite in the comedy Jak utopit doktora Mráčka (How To Drown Mr Mráček, 1974), the university professor in Arabela (1980) or dr Wagner from Létající Čestmír (The Flying Čestmír, 1983).
There also other actors worth mentioning, but I confine myself to rough data:
Petr Kostka (*11.6. 1938)
Jan Kačer (*3.10. 1936)
Jiří Kodet (6.12. 1937)
Pavel Landovský (*11.9. 1936)
Vlado Müller (*19.3. 1936 - +20.6. 1996)
František Peterka (*17.3. 1922)
The Official Scientific Page > The history of Czech cinema