Franciszek Pieczka, one of Poland’s finest theatre and film actors, has died. The 94-year-old artist’s death was announced by his family.
Franciszek Pieczka was born on 18 January 1928 in Godów in Upper Silesia. He received his diploma from the State Higher Theatre School in Warsaw in 1954. He made his first steps as an actor on the stages of, among others, the Lower Silesian Theatre in Jelenia Góra and the People’s Theatre in Nowa Huta.
At the same time, he made his debut in films. In 1954, he played in “Pokolenie” by Andrzej Wajda, in 1960 in “Matka Joanna od Aniołów” by Jerzy Kawalerowicz and in 1964 in “Rękopis znaleziony w Saragossie” by Wojciech Jerzy Has.
Pieczka’s real breakthrough came in 1966 when filming began for the series “Czterej pancerni i pies” / [“Four Tank-Men and a Dog” – ed.] (1966-1970). As Gustlik Jeleń, a member of the “Rudy” tank crew, together with Janusz Gajos, Włodzimierz Press and Roman Wilhelmi among others, he won the hearts of the audience.
While working on the set of the series, Pieczka simultaneously appeared in films by Henryk Kuba – “Chudy i inni” / [“Skinny and the Others” – ed.] (1966) and “Słońce wschodzi raz na dzień” / [“The Sun Rises Once a Day” – ed.] (1967). He received excellent reviews for his performance in the poetic “Life of Matthew” by Witold Leszczyński (1967), where he created the tragic figure of an oversensitive man with the soul of a child.
Pieczka’s film achievements also include roles in Kazimierz Kutz’s “Pearl in the Crown” (1971), Andrzej Wajda’s The Wedding (1972), Jan Rybkowski’s “The Peasants” (1973). Pieczka also played the memorable roles of old Kiemlicz in Jerzy Hoffman’s “Potop” (1974) and the German factory owner Muller in Wajda’s “The Promised Land” (1974).
He also appeared, among others, in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Blizna” (1976) and – as the innkeeper Tag – in Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s “Austeria” (1982). In 1993, he starred in Jan Jakub Kolski’s “Jańcio Wodnik” / [“Johnnie Waterman” – ed.], and in 2001 he played the role of Saint Peter in Kawalerowicz’s film adaptation of Henryk Sienkiewicz’s “Quo vadis”. In recent years, audiences have seen Pieczko in the role of Stach Japycz in the TV series “Ranczo” / [“The Ranch” – ed.].
In 2011. Franciszek Pieczka was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of Polonia Resituta for his outstanding contribution to national culture. In 2015, he was awarded the Polish Film Award Eagle for Life Achievements.
In 2017, he was awarded the Order of the White Eagle.
Last year, the Polish Filmmakers Association honoured the actor with the SFP Special Award for lifetime achievement.
In April 2022, he announced that he would no longer appear on stage or in film.