Elzbieta Czyzewska, 1938-2010

Elzbieta Czyzewska headshot

Elzbieta Czyzewska, 1938-2010

AOP is truly heartbroken today to hear of the death of our friend Elzbieta, who our audiences will remember from the memorable characters she created and her seductive Eastern European purr in Darkling.

One of my fondest memories was being with her on the 2007 Darkling tour as she returned to Poland for the first time in many years, and over 35 years from when she was expelled from her country where she was a famous actress. We waited at a checkpoint in a stifling hot Cold War era bus as the guards collected our passports. Despite her fame they did not bat an eye, and no one seemed to notice her quiet sadness at the ignoble lack of fanfare. I had her stand up in the aisle of the bus and pose for a picture. She immediately turned into the coquettish young beauty that I think she always was in her heart, held her head high, and looked down seductively.  (You can see the picture below.)

We will miss her elegant, non-stop smoking, her vampiric dahhhling of a speaking voice, and her biting humor. Goodbye, sweet duchess.

– Matt Gray, AOP Producing Director

“In the 1960s Ms. Czyzewska was, quite simply,
the most popular actress in Poland, creating, in comic and dramatic roles, a consistent persona that was both fiercely feminine and fiercely independent.” – New York Times

Read the New York Times obit for Elzbieta.

Elzbieta in Poland 2007

Elzbieta returning to Poland in 2007. Photo by Matt Gray.

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6 Responses to Elzbieta Czyzewska, 1938-2010

  1. Crystal Manich says:

    In Poland she walked down the main street of Gniezno with a girlish bounce and bought a cream in a cone that she said she ate as a child constantly. I never saw her so bright outside of that moment. I remember sitting next to her on the plane back to New York from Berlin when she talked to me about politics and was interested in the book by Ernesto Sabato I was reading. She always treated me with kindness and I have fond memories of her–and I remember often laughing at her witty jokes.

    The best quote I remember from her: “The reason why no one wants people to smoke anymore in cafes is because when people smoke and drink coffee they stay for hours and start to have ideas. No one wants anyone to have radical ideas about politics.” And she should know…

  2. Perri Yaniv says:

    I’ve been sitting for days trying to verbalize the sadness of learning that Elzbieta had passed on. I had the honor and pleasure of playing her son in the New York production of Darkling, and it was a privilege to spend time with her outside of rehearsals at Vaselka, or walking down 2nd Avenue during our breaks. When she learned I did not have a winter coat, she brought one that had been tailored for her. The arms were too short but the essence was there and I wore that coat for years. I always referred to her as my Darkling Mother, and she would simply look at me, with those investigative, wild and sad eyes and say “son.”

  3. Cassondra Joseph says:

    Her stage presence and voice were magic. It was hard not to focus on her, despite some incredible singing going on all around her. She was a class act & will be long remembered!!!

  4. Cassondra Joseph says:

    A MAGNIFICENT artist – & a wonderful human being!! A great loss to us all!!!!

  5. Lois Schwartz says:

    A very special and underappreciated lady – she will be missed.

  6. Charles Jarden says:

    “…who will acknowledge things of darkness as their own?” This line from Darkling was immortalized by Elzbieta. God rest her soul.

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