Lidia Wysocka

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Lidia Wysocka
Lidia wysocka sings in zlota maska.jpg
Lidia Wysocka in Złota Maska, 1939
Born (1916-06-24)June 24, 1916
Died January 2, 2006(2006-01-02) (aged 89)
Warsaw, Poland
Occupation actress, singer, voice actor, director
Spouse(s) Zbigniew Sawan (1943–1984)

Lidia Wysocka (June 24, 1916 – January 2, 2006) was a Polish stage, film and voice actress, singer, cabaret performer and creative director, theatre director and costume designer, editorialist.[1]


In 1934 she replaced Madeleine Carroll's voice (playing the leading role of Martha Cnockhaert) in British thriller film I Was a Spy (1933),[2] the first movie dubbed in Poland (Siostra Marta jest szpiegiem).

The production of her 9th movie, Szczęście przychodzi kiedy chce (directed by Mieczysław Krawicz) was cancelled by the outbreak of World War II.[3]

She was invited to star in another movie, Jacek Bławut's Lili (production title), telling the story of veteran actors, but it was still in pre-production phase at the time of her death; it was finally completed as Jeszcze nie wieczór as late as in 2008.[4]

Selected theatre work[edit]

(daily dates for premiere performances only)

Early career[edit]

One of the top finalists of the beauty contest organized by the Kino magazine in 1933.[2] After recording a dubbing, she debuted on film in 1935 while she was still studying acting under Aleksander Zelwerowicz (who was very reluctant to allow his students to start their acting career before they finish school). Graduated Państwowy Instytut Sztuki Teatralnej (State Institute of Theatrical Arts, Warsaw) in 1936.

Debuted on stage in Polish Theatre in Warsaw in 1936 (with Dickens' The Pickwick Papers as Mary, starting a three-year contract), where she performed until the war. During her stage career the roles she played were a proof of her versatility, as she would find herself both in drama and comedy.

Her movie roles included singing parts; the songs she performed were available on gramophone record released by Syrena Record as early as in 1936.[5][6]

Her admirers could hear her not only on Polskie Radio (e.g.: from November 1936 she was reading the first serialized novel written for Polish radio, Dni powszednie państwa Kowalskich (The Daily Life of the Kowalskis, released in print in 1938) by Maria Kuncewiczowa), but also by dialing... the speaking clock number[7] (she was the voice of the improved telephone device launched in Poland, in 1936).[8]

World War II[edit]

As most of the actors who boycotted German-controlled theatres during the war, she had to find another way to make a living: she worked as waitress in "Na Antresoli" café. She rejected offers to start working for German UFA,[9] at that time dealing mostly with pro-Nazi propaganda movies. Blacklisted, she was taken hostage (along with other Polish artists) by Gestapo in 1941 and held in the Pawiak prison[10] (her husband Zbigniew Sawan ended up in Auschwitz concentration camp) as a result of German retaliatory action for the Polish resistance assassination of the Nazi spy Igo Sym, her co-star from Złota Maska.

Post-war years[edit]

After the war she started performing in Teatr Mały in Warsaw alongside her husband, later also in Teatr Miniatura in Warsaw and Teatr Nowy. They moved next (1947–1949) to Polish Theatre in Szczecin, where Sawan would take the manager seat. The couple returned to Warsaw in 1949 and started working in Teatr Ludowy: Sawan again as the manager, while she started directing plays. She had spent the years 1951-1953 in Buffo revue theatre, what launched her career as cabaret star.

Wagabunda Cabaret[edit]

Main article: Kabaret Wagabunda

In 1956 she created the Wagabunda cabaret[11] (in Poland meaning: a mixture of stand up comedy, theatre and music, with a prominent addition of political satire), which gathered such actors and satirists as Edward Dziewoński, Wiesław Michnikowski, Kazimierz Rudzki, Jacek Fedorowicz, Bogumił Kobiela, singer Maria Koterbska, Jeremi Przybora, Mieczysław Wojnicki, Marian Załucki, Mieczysław Czechowicz, Zbigniew Cybulski, etc.; texts for songs, monologues and sketches supplied by Stefania Grodzieńska or poets Julian Tuwim and Jan Brzechwa. Popular in Poland for over a decade, it also toured USA and Canada (1957, 1962, 1964), United Kingdom (1965, 1966), Israel (1963), USSR (1968) and Czechoslovakia (1956)[12] (in total over 2 million tickets sold, according to its manager, W.Furman).[13] She was its art director and a leading star, often performing sung poetry or versions of popular songs (particularly French ones)[14] with Polish lyrics.

Late career[edit]

After Wagabunda dissolved in 1968 she had problem finding work in Warsaw's theatres despite her experience and fame. Finally she found her way to the stage of Teatr Syrena in Warsaw, where she played in revues in 1974 through 1981. She also toured USA with it.

Apart from TV broadcasts of her recitals (as early as in 1956, while Telewizja Polska was still in the test stage of its second - post war - launch) and interviews, she appeared on satirical TV shows such as Teatr Rozrywki.
Her last TV interview was released by Kino Polska channel in 2011.

During her career she also worked with Polish public broadcaster Polskie Radio, taking part in concerts and other broadcasts. She appeared in radio dramas as early as in late 1930s; listeners of Program 1 station could still catch her in 1980s/1990s reading her own editorials on cultural news, displaying literary and satirical talent.

Teacher of Państwowa Wyższa Szkoła Teatralna (today: Aleksander Zelwerowicz State Theatre Academy), Warsaw (teaching song at Show Business Department).[15]

Awarded with Order of Polonia Restituta, Officer's Cross, for outstanding achievement in artistic work (1999), Gold Cross of Merit (1978) and other honors.


  1. ^ Witold Sadowy (2006-01-16). "Lidia Wysocka. Pożegnanie" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza - Lublin, nr 13. Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  2. ^ a b Kino (28/1935): 2. 14 July 1935.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  3. ^ Leon Bukowiecki (October 1997). "Lidia Wysocka". Video Club (10/1997): 14. 
  4. ^ ""Lili". Szaflarska w debiucie Bławuta" (in Polish). 2004-12-17. Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  5. ^ Tomasz Lerski (2004). Syrena Record - pierwsza polska wytwórnia fonograficzna - Poland's first recording company - 1904-1939. New York, Warszawa: Karin. ISBN 978-83-917189-0-2. 
  6. ^ "Lidia Wysocka" (in Polish). Biblioteka Polskiej Piosenki. Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ Roman Włodek (September 2001). "Złota maska - scenariusz dopisało życie". Kino (412): 48–52. ISSN 0023-1673. 
  8. ^ Brzoza, Czesław (1998). Kraków między wojnami. Kraków: Towarzystwo Sympatyków Historii. ISBN 83-909631-0-8. 
  9. ^ Bogusław Kunach (01/12/2003). "Być tym, co słynie. Igo Sym" (in Polish). Gazeta Wyborcza. Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |date=, |accessdate= (help)
  10. ^ "Prisoners of Pawiak, list of names" (in Polish). Prisoners of Pawiak 1939-1944. 2006. Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  11. ^ Zbigniew Adrjański (2002). Kalejdoskop estradowy: leksykon polskiej rozrywki 1944-1989: artyści, twórcy, osobistości. Warszawa: Bellona. ISBN 83-11-09191-9. 
  12. ^ Roman Frankl (2008). Maria Koterbska. Karuzela mojego życia. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. ISBN 978-83-06-03159-1. 
  13. ^ Ryszard Marek Groński (1971). Od Siedmiu Kotów do Owcy. Kabaret 1946-1968. Warszawa: Wydawnictwa Artystyczne i Filmowe. pp. 127–156. 
  14. ^ Piotr Nowakowski (January 2006). "Lidia Wysocka" (in Polish). Retrieved 02/05/2010.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  15. ^ Roman Burzyński (17 February 1957). "Wieczór u Lidii Wysockiej". Film (428): 10–11. 

Bibliography / Publicity[edit]

  • cover and note in Kino, 1935 issue 28, pages 2,12, 14/07/1935
  • cover and interview in Kino, 1938 issue 10, page 7, 06/03/1938
  • cover and note in Kino, 1938 issue 38
  • cover of Radio i świat weekly magazine, issue 9 (81), 3-9/03/1947
  • cover of Film, issue 16, 21/04/1957
  • cover of Ekran, issue 38, 18/09/1960
  • cover of Film, issue 40, 02/10/1960
  • pictorial, Film, issue 41, 1960, page 7
  • W obronie własnej in Filmowy serwis prasowy, issue 21, 1981, pages 5–7
  • Henryk Czerwiński (2000). Leksykon Sztuki Filmowej (1895-2000) (in Polish). Warszawa. Retrieved 2010-07-28. 

External links[edit]