Jan Werich (Jan Werich)

Jan Werich

Between 1916 and 1924, Jan Werich attended “reálné gymnasium” (equivalent to high school) in Křemencová Street in Prague (where his future partner, Jiří Voskovec, also studied). He studied law at the Charles University Law School from 1924 to 1927, from which he made an early departure to begin his artistic career and forge one of the most important partnerships of his life. His collaboration with Jiří Voskovec and Jaroslav Ježek lasted for more than 10 years. Their partnership was a platform for their numerous left-wing political satires. The trio’s work took inspiration from Dada, with its love of the absurd, a reaction against bourgeois values and the horrors of World War I. In the years leading up to World War II and the closure of Czechoslovak theatres, Werich, Voskovec and Ježek were forced into exile in the United States in 1938, where Voskovec and Ježek remained for the rest of their lives. Jan Werich returned to his homeland five years later, and started a partnership with Miroslav Horníček. He also worked with famous puppeteer Jiří Trnka to write modern fairy tales. With his new partner Miroslav Horníček at his side, he re-staged many of the plays he had created with Voskovec in the 1930s but set them in the political content specific to the time. Jan Werich appeared in such films as Byl jednou jeden král (English: Once Upon a Time There Was a King), which was released in 1955, and made many political compromises to appease the Communist censors. The 1960s were a peak in Werich’s career. From the creation of the ABC Theatre he moved to the City Theatres of Prague and then to the Musical Theatre of Karlin and Nusle.

Jan Werich was originally cast by producer Harry Saltzman to play Ernst Stavro Blofeld in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice. Upon his arrival at the Pinewood set, both producer Albert R. Broccoli and director Lewis Gilbert felt that he was a poor choice, resembling a “poor, benevolent Santa Claus”. Nonetheless, in an attempt to make the casting work, Gilbert continued filming. After several days, both Gilbert and Broccoli determined that Werich was not menacing enough, and recast Blofeld with Donald Pleasence in the role. Werich died on 31 October 1980 at the age of 75.

More Images

  • ob4604fc_werich_wagner -

  • Jan WERICH - doutník telefon -


  • February, 06, 1905
  • Smíchov, Czech Republic


  • October, 31, 1980
  • Prague, Czech Republic


  • Olsanske hrbitovy
  • Prague, Czech Republic

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