Emília Vášáryová

Emília Vášáryová
Born (1942-05-18) 18 May 1942
Horná Štubňa, Slovak Republic
Other names
  • Milka Vášáryová
  • Emília Vášáryová-Horská[1]
  • Emília Čorbová (per marriage)
  • Actress
  • professor
Years active 1958–present
Organization VŠMU, Bratislava
  • Ivan Horský (m. 1968; div. 1976)
  • Milan Čorba (m. 1977; w. 2013)
Children 2
Website Slovak National Theater
Emília Vášáryová's signature

Emília Vášáryová, Doctor Artis Dramaticae (hon.) (Slovak pronunciation: [ˈemiːlija ˈʋaːʃaːrijoʋaː]; born 18 May 1942)[2] is a Slovak stage and screen actress, referred to as the First Lady of Slovak Theater.[3][4] During her over five decades long career, she has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Artist (1978),[5] Alfréd Radok Award (1996),[6] Czech Lion Award[7] Golden Goblet Award (2008),[8] and most recently the honorary degree Doctor Artis Dramaticae Honoris Causa (2010) as the only female to date,[9] and ELSA (2010).[10] While her sister is former diplomat Magdaléna Vášáryová,[11] Czech media regards her as a Honorary Consul of Czech and Slovak Relations.[12]


Early years

Vášáryová at the 2011 Bratislavský bál, honored with the Bratislavian Blueberry Award.

Vášáryová was born in Horná Štubňa, the First Slovak Republic. However, and along with younger sister Magdaléna (who became a popular actress herself), she was raised in Banská Štiavnica, where both their parents taught. Her father, Jozef Vášáry, taught Slovak literature and grammar at gymnasium, and mother Hermína german language.[13]

Since childhood, Vášáryová played amateur theater, as well as participated in gymnastics. While at JSŠ highschool in Štiavnica, she was chosen for a cameo role in the Slovak/Hungarian film St. Peter's Umbrella. She played a servant-girl with only one line "I'm coming, I'm coming!".[14] The color motion picture was released in both regions at the Christmas 1958 with her name not credited.


Although decided to proceed with languages study, or history of art at university, due to lacking so-called "confidential files" (issued by Communist Party of Czechoslovakia), Vášáryová continues at Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava with theater, eventually.[15]

When at college, she receives a few of supporting roles in two black-and-white films. Marching Is Not Always Fun (1960) and Midnight Mass (1962). In Young Ages (1962) she showed up for the first time on television. Her breakthrough came with a lead role (as "Diana") in Vojtěch Jasný's The Cassandra Cat, in which a magic cat reveals the true nature of everyone he looks at. The film premiered at the Canness in May 1963, scoring two major awards in France. C.S.T. Prize and Special Jury. Cassandra Cat won a number of awards at various international festivals in Spain, Greece, Colombia and Italy.[16]

In December 1963, A Face at the Window (directed by Peter Solan) is opened with Ladislav Chudík and Štefan Kvietik in the leads, of which both will have a significant impact on the Vášáryová's career. Chudík in onstage terms next year, while Kvietik as her frequent "husband" in many a film.

In 1964, following an offer from drama chief Ladislav Chudík, Vášáryová joined the ensemble of the Slovak National Theatre on August 1, despite noticed frustration from senior actors to whom she appeared too young and inexperienced for the stage of first order. Prior to that, she spent one season at New Scene, having appeared in four productions in total due to Magda Husáková-Lokvencová, the first spouse of the final President of Czechoslovakia, Gustáv Husák.[17]

Her debut at the national playhouse was as Ophelia in a production of Hamlet.[18] For Shakespeare's Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Lope de Vega's Florelle in the comedy The Dancing Master, she received the Janko Borodáč Award in 1967.

I didn't want to be an actress, and so I'd cry out whole days – that's what Magda [sister] says at least. I don't much recall it yet.
 Emília Vášáryová[17]

On film, the actress appeared in A Jester's Tale, which brought Karel Zeman two awards at the San Francisco IFF '64 (for Best Film and Best Direction), and the first prize at Addis Ababa IFF '64 in Ethiopia.[19]

Other full-length films included St. Elizabeth Square (1965),[20] Master Executioner (1966),[21] Trailer People (1966),[22] The Dragon's Return (1967)[23] and There's No Other Way (1968).[24] Simultaneously, Vášáryová began a television career, winning in Brno the first edition of the TV national contest Golden Croc in 1968[X] as the Most Popular Actress '67.[25]


Along with acting onstage (in Herodes and Herodias by Pavol Országh Hviezdoslav, Gorky's Vassa Zheleznova and The Last Ones, Palárik's Thanksgiving Adventure, Sophocles's Antigona and Tolstoy-Piscator's War and Peace), Vášáryová developed her television career, with roles in The Balade for the Seven Hanged (1968), Parisian Mohicans (1971), Noodledom (1971), The Shepherd Wife (1972), Monna Vanna (1973), and Impatient Heart (1974; in which her sister Magda co-starred). She was cast in several films. Copper Tower, directed by Martin Hollý Jr. (who collaborated with Vášáryová in The Balade for the Seven Hanged), which earned a Special Prize at the 21st Film Festival of Proletariats (FFP) in 1970. Martin Ťapák's The Day Which Does Not Die received various domestic awards for director and lead male (actor Štefan Kvietik).

The second half of the 70s became a very successful season for the artist, whose work was appreciated in film, and that much in theater. As "Zuza" in Who Leaves in the Rain (directed by Hollý Jr), Vášáryová received in Prague ZČDU Award at the 13th Festival of Czechoslovak Film (FČSF) as Best Actress in 1975.

Red Wine by Andrej Lettrich, who received the State Prize of Klement Gottwald for the direction, gained her much popularity on the screen, as well as on television (where the drama was split in two-episode TV series). The Lawyer, also the Lettrich's picture, won the Best Film award at the 16th Festival of Czechoslovak Film (FČSF) in České Budějovice in 1978, and brought Vášáryová herself her second ZČDU Award at the 21st Karlovy Vary International Film Festival (1978) in Karlovy Vary, and in commom with the ÚV SZŽ Gold Plaque. She was also awarded the honorary title of Meritorious Artist.


Fame? Never. Neither at the times of much success, I would glorify my work. And that's why I don't want to watch my movies.
 Emília Vášáryová[4]

The 1980s were not significant years, although she appeared in more than 30 television movies. Her film career stalled after she reached her forties. The only two pictures she co-starred in were fairy-tale Plavčík and Vratko (1981), directed by Martin Ťapák as their third collaboration (the earlier films featured Journey to San Jago and the Day Which Does Not Die), and About Fame and Grass, a short story by Peter Solan (1984). Costume designer of both movies was Vášáryová's second husband, Milan Čorba.

She began to focus solely on her stage career. She played the lead role in Iphigenia in Tauris. At the end of the decade, Vášáryová began lecturing theater at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. (One of her former students was also Barbora Bobuľová, who later achieved an international career, including David di Donatello and Nastro d'Argento award).[17]


Following the prize for her lifetime contribution, delivered by Ministry of Culture in 1991, Vášáryová launched the fourth decade of her active playing in TV. Amongs other sixteen pieces the actress made for TV in nineties, Vášáryová was also given (as opposite to Martin Huba) the lead female part in Marguerite Duras'es play La Musica,[26] for which she won in 1992 a Telemuse Award as Best TV Actress. At the same time, and almost eight years since her last appearance onscreen, the actress returned to films as "Silvia" in Red Gypsy (1992), directed by Branislav Mišík. She was cast in Hazard (1995), Roman Petrenko's debut, based on a true story, in which she co-starred with Marek Vašut.[27] Tomáš Krnáč assigned Vášáryová in the short film, The Higher Power (1996), in the role of a diva diagnosed with a serious illness.[28] In theater, she was acclaimed for her performance as "the Younger Sister" in Thomas Bernhard's play Ritter, Dene, Voss, presented at the Divadlo na Zábradlí Theatre in Prague in 1996. This play was also awarded as the best play of the 1996.[29][30]

Vášáryová at the 2009 Czech Lion Awards

Since the second half of the nineties, fifty years old Vášáryová successfully rebuilt her legend on the screen, as a result of new challenging roles the actress was to receive. Following The Cage, she left television for almost a decade. She appeared in Martin Šulík's Orbis Pictus, which was lauded at the International Filmfestival Mannheim-Heidelberg,[31] Vášáryová was given the role of mother. So was in Eva Borušovičová's official debut Blue Heaven (1997) that received nominations on several festivals, including at the 32nd Karlovy Vary IFF[32] or at the independent Cinequest Film Festival held annually in San Jose, California.[33] Return to Paradise Lost by Vojtěch Jasný was a Montréal WFF nominee, her next picture Cosy Dens (1999) was a comedy, directed by Jan Hřebejk.[34] and Vášáryová would become more importantly the director's protégé also in the 2000s. For her stage performances, for the role of Agnes in the Edward Albee play, A Delicate Balance she received the Crystal Wing in 1999 as Best Artist in Theater/Film. As the Old Woman in Ionesco's absurdist tragedy The Chairs, she received the Dosky Award, Jozef Kroner Award and Literature Fund award (all 2000).


A good role is a challenge, responsibility and duty not to betray a good author and reward him for this opportunity by work which exhausts actor's abilities. Also trying to be an adequate partner, to serve the work of art which has proven its qualities.
 Emília Vášáryová, 2004 [35]

In 2001, Vášáryová won a national journalist pool, being rated as the "Actress of the Century" in her native country.[36][37] Among more than ten stage roles she studied for her home stage during this period, she performed Maria Callas in McNally's Master Class,[38] for which she was awarded by both DOSKY and LitFond Awards in 2002. In 2009, she played the main role in Mother Courage and Her Children by Brecht and Desseau,[39] and in 2011 she was cast as Violet Weston in Tracy Letts' August: Lost in Oklahoma.[40] For the role of Stevie Gray in Edward Albee's The Goat or Who is Sylvia? she received DOSKY award in 2004.[41] She also appeared in other local theatres, such as L&S Studio (Three Versions of Life in 2003,[42] or Kingfisher in 2009)[43] and GUnaGU Theater (Turn-away Side of the Moon in 2015).[44] Apart from that, she has been featured in a number of Prague's productions, particularly for Studio DVA.[45]

On TV, her later titles included a soap-opera The Consulting Room at Pink Garden (2007) and series The Old Town's Crime Stories (2010), and a Czech TV movie Picnic directed by Hynek Bočan (2014).




Year Award Category Nominated work(s) Result
1975 ZČDU Award
  • Best Actress
Who Leaves in the Rain... Won
1978 The Lawyer Won
ÚV SZŽ Gold Plaque Won
2004 Czech Lion Up and Down Won
2005 Cinema Award Won
SFZ Reward Won
ÚSTT Reward Won
LitFond Award Yes
2008 Golden Goblet Václav Won
Czech Lion
  • Best Supporting Actress
Nasty NominatedA
2014-2015 Sun in Net Award
  • Best Actress
Eva Nová Won
1968 Golden Croc
  • Most Popular Actress
various TV performances Won
1992 Telemuse
  • Best Actress
La Musica (by M.Duras) / Mother of Jesus Won
1995 The Broken Hearts Won
1999 Golden Loop Guarding Tess Won
2001 Igric Award
  • Best Actress
The Cage Won[46]
OTO Award various TV performances NominatedB
2002 NominatedC
2003 NominatedD
2004 NominatedE
2005 NominatedE
2009 NominatedF
ELSA Award
  • Best Actress
The Archive Won
2010 OTO Award various TV performances Won
2011 Nominated
1967 Janko Borodáč Award
  • Best Actress
The Dancing Master (by Lope de Vega)
A Midsummer Night's Dream
1983 Andrej Bagar Award Iphigenia in Tauris Won[46]
1996 Alfréd Radok Award Ritter, Dene, Voss Won
LitFond Award
  • Theater Act
The Cherry Orchard Won[46]
1998 Crystal Wing
  • Best Act – Theater/Film
A Delicate Balance Won
2000 DOSKY Award
  • Best Actress
The Chairs Won
Jozef Kroner Award Won
LitFond Award Won[46]
2002 Master Class Won[46]
DOSKY Award Won
2003 Tatra Banka Reward
  • Best Performance
Unknown Won
2004 DOSKY Award
  • Best Actress
The Goat, or, Who is Sylvia? Won
2006 Kobanadi Award Joseph and Marie (by Peter Turrini) Won
To Najlepšie z Humoru Festival
  • Audience Choice
The Last Cigar (by B.Ahlfors) Won
Lifetime honors and other achievements
Year Award/Category Nominated work Result
1970 For Outstanding Work Herself Honored
1978 Meritorious Artist Honored
1991 Slovak Ministry of Culture Prize Honored
2001 Actress of the Century (by Slovak Journalists Syndicate) Honored
Actor's Mission Award Honored
2002 Ľudovít Štúr Order, 1st class (State decoration) Honored
2003 Karel Čapek Award 2002 Honored
Václav Havel Prize – The Medal of Merit Honored
2005 Pavol Strauss Award (by UKF Nitra) Honored
2007 LitFond Award Honored
2008 OTO AwardHall of Fame Honored
2009 Artis Bohemiae Amicis (by Czech Ministry of Culture) Honored
2010 Doctor Artis Dramaticae Honoris Causa (by JAMU) Honored
2012 Bratislavian Blueberry (by Honorary Council of J.Satinský)[49] Honored
2016 The Film Walk of Fame (by IFF Bratislava)[50] Honored


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  41. "Koza aneb kto je Sylvia?". Divadlo Aréna.
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