Acting Legend, Father at 92, Working 'til 101: Meet Zvonimir Rogoz

By 15 March 2018

How many actors could you name that were still actively working at the age of 101? A look at a colourful character of Zvonimir Rogoz on March 15, 2018

In the last couple of months, we've been focusing a lot on filming in Croatia, presenting several remarkable stories of various locations visited by Hollywood stars and acclaimed directors in the 20th century. This time around, we're doing a 180 and looking to a Croatian actor who rose to fame owing to a scandalous foreign flick.

Zvonimir Rogoz was a theatrical and film actor, director and translator who appeared in dozens of films and plays in his long career. He was born in Zagreb in 1887 and attended drama schools in Zagreb and Vienna, going on to perform in Osijek, Varaždin and Ljubljana. He first got noticed for playing the title role in Shakespeare's iconic Hamlet; the challenging part soon scored him work in Prague where he gained an international reputation. He was one of few actors at that time who were capable of performing in multiple languages; he was fluent in Croatian, Slovenian, Czech and Slovak.


His career in Prague led him to appear in numerous plays and several films, with the most famous one undoubtedly being Ecstasy - the 1933 drama starring Hedy Lamarr, Rogoz and Aribert Mog in leading roles. The film stirred quite a controversy back in the day, as it features several scenes in which Lamarr swims in the nude and runs through the countryside naked. Ecstasy is also known as the first non-pornographic movie which portrayed sexual intercourse and female orgasm, the latter only expressed on the actress's face. As you can imagine, not your run-of-the-mill romantic drama in the early 30s. In case you haven't seen the movie, here's the notorious scene with Lamarr and Mog - not that shocking in this day and age:

After his Prague-based period, Rogoz returned to Zagreb in 1951; he first performed at the Croatian National Theatre, then transferred to the newly-founded Drama Theatre Gavella. He also made appearances at Dubrovnik Summer Festival and Theatre &TD in Zagreb.

This acting legend had basically refused to retire: he continued to work deep into elderly age, appearing in films and plays until his late 90s. In 1986, he published a book titled 'My First 100 Years'; one just has to admire the spirit. He passed away in 1988 at the age of 101 - at that time, he was known as the oldest working actor in the world.

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While Mr Rogoz undoubtedly had numerous professional achievements to his name, he's mostly remembered for an intriguing detail from his private life. As his international career kicked off with a controversial motion picture, it was only fitting for him to make a full circle and give the public another reason to gossip in his old age.

In 1988, he became a father for the first time in his life - at the age of 92. His wife Agata was 56 years his junior, so it didn't take long for the rumours to start spreading; people claimed he couldn't have possibly been the biological father to the child, but his wife opposed the gossip and stood by her claim. To be fair, it's not our place to make uneducated guesses - there must've been a reason Mr Rogoz was known as a Casanova in his day, seen with many an attractive mistress on his arm.