Dana Vavrova: Czech film star who esteemed in Germany and Austria

February 20, 2009 at 10:09 am Leave a comment

The Czech child star Dana Vavrova became one of the most popular actresses on German and Austrian television. The price of her success was a lifelong battle against her Czech accent, German TV viewers being no more enamoured of foreign accents in native roles than anyone else. With iron discipline and unusual humility she took elocution lessons until the final weeks of her terminal illness.In her teens she also took intensive drama tuition, for she soon realised that luck in the film and television world is fickle and transitory. And to give her a chance of converting teenage talent into adult stardom, she needed training and constant coaching. The films crews that worked with her came to admire her unfailing professionalism in the studio and on location.

She first attracted notice at 14 when she played the part of a Jewish teenager rescued from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto by Catholic nuns and hidden in their orphanage. Millions of viewers were moved by her performance, and she won two of Germany’s most coveted film awards, the Adolf Grimme and Golden Camera prizes.

One of her first adult roles was a small part in Milos Forman’s hugely successful Amadeus. Her first big hit came in the popular Herbstmilch (Autumn Milk) produced by Josef Vilsmeier in l988. She went on to marry Vilsmeier and had three children by him. She also starred in his chief productions, including Stalingrad, Comedian Harmonists and Schlafes Bruder (The Brother of Sleep).

Under his direction the range of her roles widened from the grandes dames of previous ages to earthy peasants and bitchy prima donnas of the latter decades of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st. And with each new part she managed to widen her popularity. Her last role as a refugee in Die Gustloff added a haunting quality to the glamour of her established stardom.

She is survived by Vilsmeier and their three daughters.

  • Dana Vavrova, television actress, was born on August 9, 1967. She died of cancer on February 6, 2009, aged 41

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