Legendary actor Jurij Souček dies

Ljubljana, 17 January - Jurij Souček, an award-winning Slovenian theatre and film actor, died on Wednesday aged 94, reported public broadcaster RTV Slovenija's news portal MMC. Souček played around 150 theatre roles and appeared in nearly 600 radio plays, while also dubbing a number of cartoon characters that resonated deeply with the younger audience.

Actor Jurij Souček (1929-2024) at an event at the national theatre SNG Drama Ljubljana in September 2023.
Photo: Katja Kodba/STA
File photo

Souček was born on 5 April 1929 in Ljubljana to Czech parents, who left their homeland during an economic crisis to find a new home in Slovenia.

Theatre was his big romance from his childhood, but he hesitated to tell his parents that he was not attending only a commercial school but also a drama school.

Upon graduating, his first job was at Ljubljana's national theatre Drama in 1953, where he stayed until 1989 with a short break as a freelancer. He retired in 1993.

He also worked with experimental groups, for instance playing Creon in Slovenian playwright Dominik Smole's Antigone in 1960. He also had three of his own groups.

Souček also worked as director, performed in a number of films, radio plays, and shows for children.

One of his most memorable roles for kids was when he lent his voice to cartoon characters such as Flip from Maya the Bee, Fik the Maxi Dog, David the Dwarf as well as both Piggeldy and Frederick.

Among the life-time achievement awards he won the Borštnik Ring, the top accolade for theatre actors, in 1994, the Victor in 2005, and the Ježek Prize for satire in 2018.

RTV Slovenija said when conferring on him the Ježek Prize that just as he approached theatre with the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of an eternal explorer, he also embraced new media and at the very beginning of his career, taking part in radio and TV shows at the time of its experimental stage more than 60 years ago.

His body of work for radio is one of the biggest in the history of Slovenian radio while "his artistic contribution to radio art is invaluable", the broadcaster said, adding that over the decades he also became "one of the most recognisable faces and voices of Slovenian television".

Condolences are pouring in on social media from politicians and actors, including the Slovenian president, the president of parliament, and MEPs.

President Nataša Pirc Musar said that with his unique talent and human touch Souček left an indelible mark in Slovenian theatre, television and film.

"We are grateful to him, because he made our childhood more fairytale-like, something we will never forget. My deepest condolences to his family," she added.

Similarly, MEPs Milan Brglez and Matjaž Nemec highlighted how his voice had been imprinted into so many people in their childhoods. "One and the only and eternal. The voice of the childhood of our children. Thank you, Mr Souček. Rest in peace," said Brglez.

© STA, 2024