Vladek Sheybal was a very distinguished Polish Actor/ Director who came to England as a young actor after winning an Oscar award in his native Poland for acting.
Part of the award gave him the opportunity to come to England to study French and English but he liked living here so much he stayed. The Times newspaper carried in it's obituary that Vladek fought in the Polish resistance and arrived in England via Paris and Vienna in 1958.
Although arriving from Poland destitute and not knowing anyone here, he supported himself by washing dishes at a drama college - where he was recognised by the students there from his first film (the Polish war feature based on real life events) "Kanal."
He then went on to teach acting for a while (one of his students was a young actress by the name of Gabrielle Drake - with whom he would later work in the TV series UFO).
Moving on to immerse himself in the theatre, he was seen in productions of The Eagle and The Serpent, Salome, and He who gets slapped. Later, he was persuaded by Sean Connery (who was by this time a close friend) to take the role of the arrogant James Bond villain "Kronsteen" in "From Russia with Love." Vladek went on to star and play in over 60 films, and his last film appearance was in "Double X: The Name of the Game" and his final TV appearance was in the UK TV Drama series -"The Bill" in an episode called "Sympathy for the Devil" this episode was made exactly one month before his death in 1992.
Of course, Vladek played many diverse characters during his career and not always as the villain - the Director Ken Russell was keen to have Vladek in his productions, one of which was "Women in Love" where Vladek played the sculptor "Loerke." Other Russell films included "The Debussy Film" and the musical "The Boyfriend" starring here with another actress from UFO - Antonia Ellis.
In 1980 Vladek Sheybal starred in a film called "The Apple" which takes a futuristic look at how the world would be controlled by music and the power of rock in 1994! Most critics who have seen the film agree that for them it is simply the worst film ever made but to those of us who suspend our disbelief, and watch it simply for Vladek it is a triumph, he is absolutely marvellous in it singing and dancing.
Also in 1980 Vladek Sheybal wrote a movie called "All about a Prima Ballerina" in which he starred (as Marcus) with Gabrielle Drake (as the Ballerina - for whom he wrote the part)- he wrote the lyrics, the screenplay and the music, he also directed the film. The movie was filmed in 10 days and financed on an entirely co-operative basis by the cast and crew alike. The film has only ever been shown once in the UK at the London Film Festival in 1980 and to date, the BFI have no further knowledge of it ever seeing the light of day in the UK outside of the festival, although it has appeared in the USA playing in provincial theatres on the Art House Circuit. Sadly, there are no video copies available.
Vladek Sheybal's television appearances were also many and varied including the enigmatic and mysterious Dr Doug Jackson in UFO, he had previously worked for Gerry and Sylvia Anderson on the film Doppelganger.
He also played guest roles in The New Avengers, The Saint, Danger Man, The Baron, and The Champions - to name but a few.
Mr Sheybal also wrote plays, music and lyrics and was an artist and composer. Like all Pisceans, he was blessed with the most hauntingly beautiful eyes. His voice was an inspiration, gentle inflections of the French, Polish, German and Italian languages in which he was fluent were uniquely interwoven into this rich almost hypnotic quality he had in his voice when he spoke; he was a truly unique man, a gentle humanitarian, tolerant and kind.
Mr Sheybal was instantly recognisable to those of us who appreciated him and his work, and it is such a shame we had to lose him in 1992 but by continuing to enjoy his work and career we will keep his memory alive.
Other birthdates for Vladek Sheybal show the year as 1927, 1928 and 1933. As far as I am aware, he was born in 1923.