Grigore Vasiliu Birlic

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Grigore Vasiliu Birlic
Grigore Vasiliu Birlic.jpg
Born Grigore Vasiliu
(1905-01-24)24 January 1905
Fălticeni
Died 14 February 1970(1970-02-14) (aged 65)
Bucharest, Romania
Nationality Romanian
Occupation Actor
Years active 1934–1969
Spouse(s)
  • Angela Mateescu
  • Valeria Nanci

Grigore Vasiliu Birlic (Romanian pronunciation: [ɡriˈɡore vasiˈli.u birˈlik]; January 24, 1905, Fălticeni–February 14, 1970, Bucharest) was a Romanian actor who appeared on stage, on television and in films. He was best known for comedic roles.

Early life[edit]

Grigore Vasiliu was born on 24 January 1905 into the family of a small businessman on the "Pârâul Târgului" street of Fălticeni. As a child he wanted to become a circus clown; however, his parents did not consider acting a serious job, and when he finished the "Nicu Gane" high school in Fălticeni in 1924, he was sent to study law in Cernăuţi.

Early career[edit]

He started in the local theater where he was noticed by Dragos Protopopescu, the theater director. He received his first role as a mute character in the comedic play "Musca spaniolă" ("The Spanish Fly") by Arnold and Bach. He was hired at the National Theater in Cernăuţi, and his next appearance was in Victor Ion Popa's "Amanetul" (The Pawn Shop) by Holberg.[1] Birlic, who strugggled with a lisp, failed to get into the Dramatic Art Conservatory of Cernăuţi seven times before succeeding the eighth. There he was a student of Petre Sturdza, and he met Julles Cazaban as a colleague.

Top of the Career[edit]

Birlic3.jpg

In 1933, director Aurel Maican brought him to Bucharest, where he performed in plays such as "Vârcolacul"("The Werewolf), "Micul Weber" ("Little Weber") and "Prostul din baie"("The Idiot In The Bathroom"). Grigore Vasiliu was nicknamedBreloc ("Pendant") after playing in Iancovescu's Corabia lui Noe ("Noah's Ark").

His big breakthrough was with Iancovescu's play Împăratul ("The Emperor") by Luigi Bonelli. Alongside him were Mania Antonova and N.N. Matei. Following this success, he played the main character in Tudor Musatescu's adaptation of the play Birlic by Arnold and Bach. The play was another success for the actor who became known as Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic due to the character he interpreted for a long time with great success.

He was appointed director of the theater group Colorado. However, communist laws banned private theater groups, and he was fired. He returned to the National Theatre of Bucharest where the repertory was set by the Propaganda Department of The Romanian Communist Party.[citation needed]

His comeback was in Sică Alexandrescu's O scrisoare pierdută ("A lost letter") in 1953 in which he initially portrayed Dandanache, and then Brânzovenescu. Radu Beligan praised the play and described Birlic as "[a] genius of comedy, of the Romanian humor".[citation needed]

In 1956 Sică Alexandrescu, Birlic, Alexandru Giugaru and George Calboreanu performed the play Bădăranii ("The Boors") by Carlo Goldoni at the Goldoni Festival in Venice. A storm broke out while the actors were on stage, yet the guests remained in the garden of Palazzo Grassi, entranced by Birlic's interpretation of Caciani.

End of Career[edit]

After his return from Italy, Birlic continued acting in D-ale carnavalului, Conu Leonida față cu reacțiunea, Avarul și Burghezul gentilom by Molière, Egor Bulicov by Maxim Gorki, Revizorul by Nikolai Gogol, Oameni care tac by Alexandru Voitin, Nunta lui Krecinski by Suhovo-Kobalina and Mielul turbat by Aurel Baranga.

In his entire career, Birlic portrayed 13 of I.L.Caragiale's characters. For the Romanians, the face of Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic merges with the notion of a Caragiale character. Birlic himself said "As one of the actors who have played the most characters - thirteen - from the work of our great dramatist, I recall Caragiale with affectionate gratitude for the theatrical successes that he occasioned me with. These roles represented to me in over 35 years of theater, a great school of acting knowledge, characters of our drama masters. "[citation needed]

Sensing that his end was near, Birlic asked his manager, Gaby Michăilescu, to help him direct his last theatrical appearance. He chose to reenact the play that gave him his name, "Birlic". Actors who also played in Birlic's last appearance were Silvia Dumitrescu-Timică, Alexandru Giugaru, Petre Ștefănescu-Goangă, N. Gărdescu, Vasilica Tastaman and Antonescu-Cărăbuș.

On 14 February 1970, Grigore Vasiliu-Birlic died at the age of 65. He is buried at the Bellu cemetery in Bucharest.

Film[edit]

In 1934, Birlic began in his film career with the movie Bing-Bang[2] alongside Stroe and Vasilache, followed by Doamna de la etajul II ("The second floor lady") starring Birlic, Maud Mary, Mihai Popescu and Mihai Fotino. During the Second World War, artistic activities in Romania were limited, but Birlic returned in 1951 in Jean Georgescu's Vizita ("The Visit"), an adaptation of Caragiale's sketch. Following this success, he was featured in O scrisoare pierdută, in Gheorghe Naghi and Aurel Micheles's Doua lozuri ("Two Lottery Tickets"), and in Iancovescu's D-ale carnavalului ("The Carnival"). The three adaptations of Caragiale's work formed the highlight of Birlic's career.

Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes
1935 Bing-Bang The Client
1937 Doamna de la etajul II Director in the Ministry
1951 Viaţa Învinge Mişu
1952 Vizita The guest
1952 Lanţul Slăbiciunilor
1953 O Scrisoare Pierdută Iordache Brînzovenescu
1955 Directorul Nostru
1957 Două lozuri Lefter Popescu
1957 D'ale Carnavalului Crăcănel
1959 Telegrame
1959 Doi vecini Attorney M. Theodorescu-Falciu
1959 Băieţii Noştri
1960 Bădăranii Caciano
1961 Post restant
1961 Drum nou
1961 Aproape de Soare Petre's father
1962 Doi băieţi ca pâinea caldă
1963 Lumina de iulie
1964 Paşi spre lună Mercur
1964 Mofturi 1900
1965 Titanic Vals Spirache Necsulescu
1965 Les fêtes galantes/Serbările galante
1966 Steaua fără nume Udrea, the music teacher
1966 Corigenţa domnului Profesor

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