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The Warsaw Voice » Society » March 12, 2008
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Veteran Actor Dies
March 12, 2008   
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Gustaw Holoubek, one of the greatest Polish actors and stage directors, died March 6 at the age of 85. He was a role model for generations of actors and a brilliant teacher and manager of some of the country's best theaters.

Holoubek was born April 21, 1923, in Cracow. His father, a Czech citizen, settled in Poland after World War I and married a Polish widow from Cracow. Gustaw was the couple's only child, but he had five half-siblings from his parents' previous relationships. His father died when Gustaw was 10 years old.

When World War II broke out in 1939, Holoubek signed up with the army. He ended up in prisoner-of-war camps, first near Magdeburg, Germany, and then in Toruń, Poland. He was released in 1940. While in the camps, he contracted tuberculosis, which he struggled with during the next several years. Until 1945, he worked at a gas works in Cracow. In the following four years, Holoubek was an actor with the Juliusz Słowacki Theater and Stary Theater in Cracow, after which he moved to the Stanisław Wyspiański Silesian Theater in Katowice. He was the theater's artistic manager for two years. A brilliant actor and stage director, Holoubek did not have the looks of a heartthrob, but his magic was in his voice and eyes.

The turning point in his career was 1967 when he played the main role in Dziady, a Romantic play by Adam Mickiewicz that is a milestone in Polish literature. The communist authorities at the time banned the production due to its supposedly anticommunist message. The incident sparked off what went down in history as the March Events, or widespread public protests against the communist regime in Poland.

In 1991, the Polish Radio Theater gave Holoubek a Grand Splendor award for his roles in various radio plays. Holoubek also won the title of Master of the Polish Tongue. On its 50th anniversary, Polish public television station TVP gave him a Polish TV Star statuette for his roles in a number of movies and made-for-TV plays and for his work as the director of many famous plays.

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