Eugeniusz Bodo

more than a year ago
One chap you’re unlikely to have heard of is Eugeniusz Bodo, the veteran of thirty films, and director of two. Born in 1899 his place of birth is hotly disputed, with Geneva, Warsaw and Łódź all being possibilities. In 1910 his father opened the Urania cinema in Łódź, sparking Bodo’s early interest in showbiz. By the time the war finished he had become a familiar name on the stage with regular appearances in the dance halls and cabarets of Warsaw. His big break came in 1925 when he was cast as the genius in the smash hit Rywale, and from there everything he touched turned to gold. Accolades and awards followed; in 1932 he was named 'King of Polish Actors', and four years later he was granted the title of 'King of Fashion'. His dashing looks and flirty manner made him a nationwide heartthrob, and his army of admirers weren’t disappointed when his marriage to the eccentric Tahitian actress, Anna Chevalieur, crumbled due to her roaring drink problem; his own vices were a little less murky, the 'Polish Clarke Gable' preferring to spend his spare time engrossed in needlework.

Not that he left much time for himself – aside from starring in films Bodo launched two production companies, wrote seven screenplays and penned five soundtracks. In 1939 he opened Café Bodo, a trendy Warsaw drinkery on the then fancy ul. Pierackiego (current day ul. Foksal 17) that became an important source of income for actors who found themselves out of work following anti-arts Nazi decrees. The café was eventually requisitioned by the fascists to serve as a German-only establishment, prompting Bodo to head east to Soviet controlled Lwów (current day Lviv). It was here he joined the Tea Jazz band led by Henryk Wars (who would later go on to write the music to Flipper), though he soon found himself on the wrong side of the law. Arrested by the NKVD for alleged espionage Poland’s biggest star of the inter-war period found himself packed off to the Gulag. The end of his life is as foggy as the start, with several contradictory accounts of his death. Depending on who you believe he either starved to death, was executed or died from exhaustion, either way most sources agree he passed away on October 7, 1943.


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