Jakubisková, Melania


Melania Jakubisková was born in Chmelov, Slovakia, in 1942. After the early death of her mother, she grew up with her older brother, the later director Juraj Jakubisko, at her grandmother’s home in Košice. During her education at the Secondary School for Applied Arts in Bratislava, she participated in an acting competition and was selected to join the pantomime theater headed by the famous mime Milan Sládek. For many years, she was the theater’s solo performer, as well as Sládek’s performance partner. 


In 1968, when Russia invaded Czechoslovakia, Sládek moved parts of his company abroad, via Sweden to West Germany, due to political oppression. Although Jakubisková remained in Czechoslovakia and had a second child, it was hard for her to find new work. Her husband, the famous cartoonist Marian Vanek, also dealt with political censorship and coercion, and his work was banned.


After a long search for a lead actress for Fräulein Schmetterling, director Kurt Barthel followed Milan Sládek’s recommendation and cast Jakubisková in the role of the 17-year-old Helene Raupe in his modern-day fairytale written by Christa and Gerhard Wolf. This remains the only film role she has ever performed. The 1965-66 production was interrupted during final production by East German officials, due to the perceived negative presentation of daily life in the GDR. The film was shelved and not screened publicly until 2005, when the DEFA Foundation restored the film and showed it. In 2020, the film was reconstructed and made available for wider release.


After the 1989 Velvet Revolution, Jakubisková worked as a pantomime choreographer. Since 1997, she and her husband live in the little town of Sušice in the Bohemian Forest region of the Czech Republic, where she retired.



1965-66/2020 Fräulein Schmetterling (Miss Butterfly)


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