Czech Republic mourns beloved star of 'Cinderella' and other fairytales

Libuše Šafránková, internationally known for her title role in the popular fairytale film 'Three Wishes for Cinderella' died today at 68.

ČTK

Written by ČTK
Published on 09.06.2021 16:57 (updated on 09.06.2021)

Prague, June 9 (CTK) - Czech actress Libuše Šafránková, internationally known for her title role in the popular fairy-tale film Three Wishes for Cinderella (Tři ořísky pro Popelku, 1973), died today aged 68, CNN Prima News server has reported, citing her son Josef Abrhám Jr.

One of the most popular Czech film and theater stars, Šafránková played princesses in a number of other fairytale films. She was a member of Prague's Činoherní klub drama group for many years.

Šafránková also had a role in Kolya (Kolja, 1996), the Czech Oscar-winning film by Jan Svěrák. For her role in it, she won the Czech Lion award for the best film actress.

She is also known for her outstanding performance in Jan Svěrák's nostalgic comedy The Elementary School (Obecná škola, 1991), Jiri Menzel's My Sweet Little Village (Vesničko má, středisková, 1985) and Petr Nikolaev's Those Wonderful Years That Sucked (Báječná léta pod psa, 1997).

Apart from playing Cinderella in the Czechoslovak and East German coproduction of the fairytale, Šafránková also had roles in the fairytales Third Prince (Třetí princ, 1982), Prince and the Evening Star (Princ a Večernice, 1978), comedies such as Waiter, Scarper! (Vrchní, prchni, 1980) and How to Drown Dr. Mracek (Jak utopit dr. Mráčka, 1974).

Of her television roles, the most popular are those from the series Hospital at the End of the City (Nemocnice na kraji města, 2008), Policeman's Humoresques (Četnické humoresky, 2000s) and The Necklace (Náhrdelník, 1992), the latter of which she played opposite her husband, actor Josef Abrhám, now 81. The csfd.cz film portal attributes almost 150 roles to Šafránková.

The actress often brought a sense of humor ranging from dry irony to vital comicality to all the roles she played.

Born in Brno on June 7, 1953, Šafránková finished her drama studies at the Brno Conservatory and joined the ensemble of the State Theatre in Brno. She later played with Otomar Krejča's famous Za branou theatre in Prague, which was closed down by the hardline communist regime following the Soviet-led military invasion of Czechoslovakia.

In 1972, she joined the Činoherní klub group whose repertoire and creative atmosphere decisively shaped her profile as an actress.

After the fall of the communist regime, Šafránková joined the National Theatre drama group and stayed with it for three years. She returned to Činoherní klub in 1994 but definitively left shortly afterward.

Czech colleagues paid tribute to the actress Wednesday following the news of her death, including Zdeněk Svěrák who worked with the actress on Kolya.

"She was always called Libuška, never Libuše, because she was such a nice girl that you just couldn't say otherwise. Libuška was an incredibly talented actress, you can remember her by touching you or by making you laugh, because she performed both of these tasks perfectly,“ Svěrák said.

In recent years Šafránková battled lung cancer, causing her to drop out of the production of the fairy tale Mamánek in which she was cast as a queen. Her last film credit listed on IMDB is the family drama Jak jsme hráli čáru from 2014.

While the beloved Czech actress will be remembered for her impressive career spanning close to fifty years, she will always be known to most as Cinderella. The 1973 film, adapted from a Božena Němcová story and directed by Václav Vorlíček, launched young Libuše Šafránková into instant stardom.

It was a success not only when it was released in what was then Czechoslovakia but in countries around the world, including Germany and Russia where it remains essential Christmas viewing.

A Norwegian remake of the Czech classic with pop music star Astrid Smeplass, better known as Astrid S, playing Cinderella is currently underway.

A number of Czech celebrities and politicians continued to eulogize Šafránková on social networks, many of them noting that Christmas would never be the same.

PM Andrej Babiš wrote that he cannot imagine Christmas without Šafránková. "I have seen her Cinderella a hundred times. I cannot imagine Czech Christmas without her. I think no one of us can. I am immensely unhappy about her departure," Babiš wrote.

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