|Birth: ||Apr. 9, 1891, Czech Republic|
|Death: ||Jan. 31, 1962|
Prague, Czech Republic
Born Josef Vlastimil Burian, he is known in the Czech Republic as Král komiků (King of Comedians). A stage and film actor, comedian and film director, he was also a professional tennis player and the football league goalkeeper for Prague's AC Sparta.
His father, Antonin Burian, was a tailor, amateur actor, and Czech patriot living in Austria-Hungary's Reichenberg (now Liberec). When Vlasta was 10, Antonin moved the family to Prague's Žižkov District. Vlasta entertained clients in the shop and at parties of friends. Gradually his talents as a comedian and singer lead to minor roles in the Vinohrady and Svandovo Theatres. Through the connections of Charles Hasler, he began working in various cabarets. A brief relationship with dancer Anna Emílie Pírkovová produced a daughter, Emilka Burianova.
After being drafted into World War I, Burian defected with his friend and piano player Daliborem Ptákem. They traveled the Czech countryside playing in cabarets and avoiding military entanglements until they were captured and imprisoned. After amnesty, he returned to Prague, playing in both cabarets and reputable theaters. Despite having a cordial relationship with the mother of his only child, Burian married Nina Červenková in 1919. She was the love of his live and stayed by his side through his darkest times.
Burians greatest skill was as an improvisationalist. Between 1923 and 1956 he performed in 4 silent and 36 sound films under such noted Czech directors as Karel Lamač, Martin Frič, Jan Sviták, and Miroslav Cikán. His leading ladies included Lida Baarová, Adina Almond, Růžena Šlemrová, Anny Ondra, Natasha and Vera Gollová Ferbasová. His best scenes were those filmed after the director called "Cut".
Unable to meet the obligations of the many theatres vying for his name, Burian opened his own company in 1925. This business decision was to make him exceptionally rich and equally famous. Chocolate candies and hybrid roses carried his name; he bought a castle, the fastest cars, and a farm where all the cows were named after characters he had played.
During World War II, he continued to sell out performances, despite the German Occupation. Such continued fortune in the face of war would turn opinions against him. It all ended abruptly in 1944 when Georbels ordered the closure of all Czech theatres. After liberation, and return of the Czech government-in-exile, the Soviet-supervised authorities arrested Burian on allegations of collaboration with the Nazis. He was paroled from jail after the intervention of Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk, and eventually found innocent in court.
The ruling drew negative attention in the press, and opposition politians called for Burian to be made an example. He was re-arrested, and in a mock-trial, sentenced to several months of hard labor and fined half a million crowns. Virtually all his property was confiscated (including that he had aquired prior to the war), and when he was finally released from prison, he was banned from reopening his theatre or even performing in public for a period of five years. Forced to support himself by manual labor, he worked as a checkweigher in a mine, a messenger boy, kitchen help and car driver at chalets. In 1950 he was given a pardon, with the restriction that all scripts be approved by the government and no improvisation was to be tolerated.
He died after giving his last performance with severe pneumonia. His loving and faithful wife died 9 weeks after. Together they were interred at Vinohrady.
In the early 1990s it was found in the National Archives that State Security had fixed the final court proceedings. The sole witness against him admitted that she had been forced to testify. Thirty-two years after his death, Burian was exonerated by the Czech Republic. His remains, and those of his Nina, were relocated to Vysehradsky Hrbitov, considered the burial ground of Czech Heros.
On April 9, 2009 the graphic doodle for GOOGLE© depicted the likeness of Vlasta Burian.
In April of 2011, the Czech Republic will issue a commemorative stamp honoring Burian.
Nina Červenková Burianová (1893 - 1962)
FILMOV A DIVADELNI HEREC
(Film and Theatre actor)
ZEMREL 31.1.1962 VE VEKU 71 r.
(Died Jan. 31, 1962 In Age 71 yr.)
Prague Capital City, Czech Republic
Created by: Rebecca Ewing Peterson
Record added: Apr 04, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 67904589