Radu Beligan, Actor Whose Career Spanned 80 Years, Dies at 97

News   Radu Beligan, Actor Whose Career Spanned 80 Years, Dies at 97
He is thought to have been the world's oldest active actor.
Radu Belgian
Radu Belgian

Radu Beligan, a Romanian actor whose career enjoyed a remarkable longevity, died July 20 in Bucharest at 97 after eight decades of stage activity. The cause was a heart attack.

Mr. Beligan, who was widely known in his native Romania, made his stage debut in 1937 in a stage version of the novel Crime and Punishment. He was still acting as recently as April of this year. His final role was as a scientist in a play called, appropriately enough, The Immortal.

In between those two landmarks, he acted in 80 plays, 30 films and many television and radio shows. Known for his versatility, he acted in plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, Neil Simon and Edward Albee, as well as many native Romanian writers.

Mr. Beligan was considered a disciple of actress Lucia Sturdza-Bulandra and the playwright Eugène Ionesco. He was director of the Romanian National Theater from 1960 to 1990. He was so famous in his native country that, in 2006, his face appeared on a postage stamp.

In 2013, when he was 95, the Guinness World Records recognized him as the world’s oldest active theatre actor.

Mr. Beligan was born on Dec. 14, 1918 in a village in eastern Romania a month after World War I ended. His father was an actor as well.

He was married three times, and is survived by four children, including the actress Lamia Beligan, with whom he sometimes acted.

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