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Sheybal as Kronsteen in From Russia with Love (1963)
|Born||Władysław Rudolf Z. Sheybal
12 March 1923
|Died||16 October 1992
London, United Kingdom
|Cause of death||Aortic aneurysm|
|Resting place||Putney Vale Cemetery|
|Alma mater||Merton College, Oxford|
Vladek Sheybal (born Władysław Rudolf Z. Sheybal; 12 March 1923 – 16 October 1992) was a Polish character actor and director of both television and stage productions. He was well known for his portrayal of the chess grandmaster Kronsteen in the James Bond film From Russia with Love (1963), a role for which he had been personally recommended by his friend Sean Connery. He became a naturalised British citizen but remained "fiercely proud of his homeland and its culture."
Life and career
Sheybal was born in Zgierz, near Łódź, in the Second Polish Republic. He appeared in the film Kanał (1957, credited as Władysław Sheybal), directed by Andrzej Wajda, before emigrating to the United Kingdom, where he was typically cast in villainous roles. He also appeared as Holocaust survivor Egon Sobotnik in the television mini-series QB VII.
He had a dual role as "the Director" and as Pierre Louys in Ken Russell's The Debussy Film, one of Russell's composer biopics for the BBC. Other Russell films in which he appeared were Billion Dollar Brain, Women in Love, and The Boy Friend.
Sheybal's other TV credits include Z-Cars, Danger Man, The Troubleshooters, The Saint, The Baron, The Champions, Callan, UFO (in which he had a recurring role as Dr Jackson), The New Avengers, Supernatural, Shogun, Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy, and Smiley's People (1982).
In 1977, Sheybal won the Dracula Society's prestigious Hamilton Deane Award for his performance in the BBC play Night of the Marionettes, in which he played a sinister Austrian innkeeper whose life-size puppets supposedly inspired Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Sheybal's final stage appearance was as Friedrich Nietzsche in the Pierre Bourgeade play The Eagle and the Serpent at London's Offstage Downstairs Theatre in 1988.