Actor Ion Caramitru, director of the National Theater in Bucharest and chairman of the Theater Union of Romania (UNITER), died on Sunday, at 79 years of age.
He had been hospitalized for a month at Elias Hospital in Bucharest, where doctors allegedly discovered an infection in his blood.
These days, the actor Ion Caramitru should have been in Iași to participate in the Romanian Film Evenings Festival (SFR), but, due to medical problems, the great actor was absent from the event.
Ion Caramitru was born in Bucharest, on March 9, 1942. He made his stage debut on the stage of the National Theater in Bucharest, in the play titled Eminescu, by Mircea Stefanescu, directed by Sica Alexandrescu.
He was an actor and director at the Lucia Sturdza Bulandra Theater (since 1965), being, in the 1990-1993 period, also the general director of the theater. He played over 60 roles in Shakespeare, Chekhov, Pirandello, Buchner, Bernard Shaw, Alfred de Musset, Suto Andras, Rolf Hochhuth and others. He collaborated with the great stage directors, such as Sica Alexandrescu, Moni Ghelerter, Liviu Ciulei, Vlad Mugur, Andrei Serban, Radu Penciulescu, Alexandru Tocilescu, Catalina Buzoianu.
Ion Caramitru played at the Bucharest National Theater roles such as Perdican – “No trifling with love” by Alfred de Musset, directed by Moni Ghelerter, 1964; Mircea Basarab – “Vlaicu Voda” by Alexandru Davila, directed by Sica Alexandrescu, 1965; Romeo – “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare, directed by Val Mugur, 1967; “Dialogues and fantasies in Jazz” – poetry and music show with Johnny Raducanu; Edward III – “Edward III” by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexandru Tocilescu, 2008; Macbeth – “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare, directed by Radu Penciulescu, 2011; Pierre – “Dinner with fools” by Francis Veber, directed by Ion Caramitru, 2012; Recital – “Dor de Eminescu”, 2012; Prospero – “Tempest” by William Shakespeare, directed by Alexander Morfov, 2014.
Ion Caramitru was also a highly appreciated film actor. Among the tens of films he appeared in, playing important roles, the following productions are worth mentioning: “Forest of the Hanged”, film awarded in Cannes, in 1965, for best director (Liviu Ciulei), “The green grass of home”, directed by Stere Gulea, “Ecaterina Teodoroiu”, directed by Dinu Cocea. Furthermore, Caramitru was known to the public also for his role as Socrates in the famous “Highschoolers” series. His talent, noted by producers abroad, recommended him for roles in movies such as “Kafka” (1991), directed by Steven Soderbergh, together with Jeremy Irons and Theresa Russell, “Mission: Impossible”, directed by Brian de Palma or his wonderful role Count Fontana in “Amen” (2002), directed by Costa Gavras.
He was Minister of Culture in the 1996-2000 period.
Ion Caramitru was elected chair of UNITER at its establishment, on February 15, 1990.
In 2017, he was made an honorary citizen of Bucharest, as well as a Shakespeare ambassador in Romania, title granted by the British Council, on the occasion of Shakespeare year.
Also in 2017, President Klaus Iohannis made Ion Caramitru a Knight of the National Order of the Star of Romania, on the occasion of the actor’s 75th birthday.
In December 21-22, 1989, he was among the leaders of the anti-Communist manifestations in Bucharest. On December 22, 1989, while leading a column of protesters, they entered the buildings of the Romanian Television, Caramitru being the first to take to the air to announce on the national television channel the toppling of the dictatorship.
Orban: Ion Caramitru, great actor, but also symbol of first steps in democracy
The Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Ludovic Orban, believes Ion Caramitru was not only a great actor, but also “a symbol of the first steps we took in democracy.”
“Ion Caramitru, a true star of Romania’s stage and screen, a man devoted to art and culture, was for us also a symbol of the first steps we took in democracy. His face and voice gave hope and courage to Romanians in December 1989 when they rose up to fight for freedom. The years in which he led the Culture Ministry are among the best this domain has had in its three-decade history. He charmed us on stage, he encouraged us in times of need, he helped us move forward,” said Orban, on Sunday, on Facebook.