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Acclaimed Actor Géza Tordy Passes Away at 85

Born in Budapest on May 1, 1938, Tordy originally pursued studies in civil engineering during high school but found his passion for the stage as a 16-year-old member of Ida Versényi's amateur acting troupe.
WITHOUT FORMAL ACTING TRAINING, HE MASTERED THEATRE THROUGH EXPERIENCE

Although he was accepted into college in 1956, the institution did not offer an acting program that year. However, János Zách, the director of the theatre in Kaposvár, took him under his wing as an assistant actor. On October 26, 1956, Tordy recited the "Szózat" at the city's Petőfi statue.

He moved from Somogy to Szeged for two years, and at the age of 21, joined the Hungarian People's Army Theatre (now known as the Vígszínház). From 1963 to 1967, his talents were primarily showcased at the Madách Theatre before returning to Vígszínház.

Tordy also ventured into directing, with his productions first staged at the Petőfi Theatre in Veszprém. From 1992, he served as the artistic director of the prose section at the Győri National Theatre, in 1995 became the chief director of the Budapest Chamber Theatre, and for decades taught at the University of Theatre and Film Arts.

As he did not attend college, he learned everything on the stage, in films, on television, and in dubbing work. In an interview, he noted that it took at least ten years before he could truly consider himself an actor.

His performances were distinguished by a brilliant ability to depict characters, a genuine emotional depth in portraying both romantic and modern heroes, and a wild yet controlled passion for his roles. A favorite among audiences, his exceptional contributions spanned theatre, film, and television.

ON STAGE, HE CAPTIVATED AUDIENCES AS SHAKESPEARE'S HEROES

Tordy’s notable roles included Edgar in "King Lear," Orlando in "As You Like It," and Puck in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." He portrayed Camille Desmoulins in Büchner's "Danton's Death," Knight Ripafratta in Goldoni’s "Mirandolina," Luka in Gorky's "The Lower Depths," and Willy Loman in Arthur Miller’s works.

A RESOUNDING SUCCESS AS A DIRECTOR

He played Salieri in the Hungarian premiere of Peter Shaffer's "Amadeus"; in 2010, he directed the same play at the Miskolc National Theatre.

According to Tordy, directing provided more freedom than acting. He brought over 60 plays to the stage, including works such as "Liliom" by Ferenc Molnár, "The Cherry Orchard" by Chekhov, "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams, and "American Electra" by Eugene O’Neill, among others.

HIS FILM CAREER WAS ALSO REMARKABLE

Tordy made his screen debut in 1957 in "Suburban Legend," where he worked alongside famous actors like Manyi Kiss, Mari Törőcsik, and Imre Sinkovits. By 22, he was starring in "It Is Not Forbidden to Walk on the Grass," directed by Károly Makk.

Later, he became a staple in Hungarian cinema, playing notable roles such as Jenő Baradlay in the legendary adaptation of "The Sons of the Stone Hearted Man" at the age of 26.

He was celebrated for roles in "The Captain of Tenkes," "The Stars of Eger," "Black Diamonds," and "The Red Countess," among many others.

Tordy also made significant contributions to television dramas, including "Édes Anna," "Malom a Séden," and performed in the recent historical film "Hadik" directed by János Szikora.

A versatile talent, he lent his voice in dubbing for actors such as Gérard Philipe, Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, and Anthony Hopkins. His voice could also be heard in several radio plays and he narrated the audiobook version of Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea."

In an interview, he once described his years at the Vígszínház as the most beautiful and fulfilling of his life. He felt fortunate to have worked with Zoltán Várkonyi, who was a significant mentor both in theatre and in film.

HIS TALENT WAS WIDELY RECOGNIZED

Over his career, Tordy received numerous accolades including the Jászai Mari Award in 1970 and 1977, was named an eminent artist in 1980, an outstanding artist in 1988, and received the prestigious Kossuth Prize in 1991.

He was honored with the Officer's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Hungarian Republic, the Hegedűs Gyula Award, the Andor Ajtay Award, the Tivadar Bilicsi Award, and the first-ever Eva Ruttkai Memorial Ring.

In 2005, he was inducted as a perpetual member of the Immortals’ Company. In 2008, he was distinguished as a National Actor, and in 2011, he received the Prima Primissima Award. In 2019, he was honored with a lifetime achievement award from the Association of Copyright for Performers (EJI) at the Szinkronikum Gala.

Reflecting on his craft, Tordy once said, "Theatre is like architecture. It contains elements of visual arts, poetry, melodies in forms, and everything. But the theatre is somewhat inferior because it is more ephemeral." Géza Tordy would have turned 86 on May 1.
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