Stevo Žigon

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Stevo Žigon on a 2009 Serbian stamp
Grave of Stevo Žigon in Belgrade

Stevo Žigon (Serbian Cyrillic: Стево Жигон; 8 December 1926 in Ljubljana – 28 December 2005 in Belgrade) was a Slovenian-Serbian actor, theatre director, and writer. His origins were primary Italian. He was born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, then part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. His family were Slovene immigrants from the Slovenian Littoral, which was under Italian administration . His father was from the village of Volčji Grad near Komen in the Kras region, while his mother came from the Slovene community in Trieste (now in Italy). The family lived in Trieste until the Fascist takeover in 1922, when they fled to the neighboring Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.[1]

He was married to popular Serbian actress Jelena Žigon. The couple's daughter Ivana is also an actress.

During his youth, Žigon was an assiduous reader; he was fascinated by poetry, with his favorite poets being Alojz Gradnik, Igo Gruden, and Oton Župančič.[1]

In 1941, aged 14, as a member of Communist Youth League, he participated in many sabotage actions organized by the Liberation Front of the Slovenian People. In 1942, Žigon was captured by the Italian Army. As a minor, he was spared from execution and spent a year in an Italian military prison in the Province of Ljubljana.[1] After the Italian armistice in September 1943, he was captured by the Wehrmacht and sent to the Dachau (his prisoner number was 61185), where he learned German.

He studied acting in Ljubljana and Leningrad. He graduated in 1952, from the Academy for Theatre Arts in Belgrade. On faculty for acting in Belgrade he was one of the first assistants. Because of his knowledge of the German language and manners, he often played cynical and cold German officers. He was best known for playing "Krieger", chief of Belgrade Gestapo, in the popular 1970s TV series Otpisani and Povratak otpisanih.

In 1968, at the time of the student demonstrations in Belgrade, Žigon emerged and performed Danton's Death; he played Robespierre for the students. The speech he made while his character was on trial caused the assembled students to explode into enthusiastic applause.[2]

He died in Belgrade, and is buried in the New Cemetery there.

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