Veteran actor commits suicide

BELGRADE -- Veteran actor Bekim Fehmiu was found dead in his apartment in the Belgrade neighborhood of Zvezdara on Tuesday.

A file photo of Bekim Fehmiu
A file photo of Bekim Fehmiu

Police said that the death was most likely a suicide.

Fehmiu, an ethnic Albanian born in Bosnia, was 74 and one of the most famous film actors of the former Yugoslavia.

“A gun registered to his name was found next to his body and it is assumed that the actor tragically ended his own life,” said Interior Minister Ivica Dačić.

The body was discovered by one of his sons, said reports.

Fehmiu played a large number of roles in domestic and international films and on stage.

However, he gained international recognition with his role of Beli Bora in Saša Petrović’s “I Even Met Happy Gypsies”, which won Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1967.

Internationally, Fehmiu worked with Italian Producer Dino De Laurentiis, John Huston, Ava Gardner, Dirk Bogarde, Charles Aznavour, Claudia Cardinale, among others.

Film critics said that he was the only East-European actor who moved the boundaries and made films in the west “breaking the iron curtain until the appearance of Gorbachev and fall of the Berlin Wall”.

Fehmiu enrolled in the Academy of Theater Arts in Belgrade in 1956, and four years later became a permanent member of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre (JDP).

But seven years after that, he became a freelance artist and remained so until the end of his life.

Fehmiu ended his theater career in 1987 with a role in the JDP.

The legendary actor’s last role on the big screen was in Ken Annakin’s Genghis Khan in 1992.

Media were reporting that he had voluntarily left acting “due to anti-Albanian propaganda”. Fehmiu’s younger son Uliks, also an actor, once wrote:

“The breakup of Yugoslavia, the horrible fratricidal war, the destruction of Vukovar, the bombing of Dubrovnik, the long-running siege of Sarajevo, the war in Kosovo, the bombing of FR Yugoslavia have made my father withdraw even more. He gave up the words which are the strongest and most beautiful means for an actor. He gave them up and turned them into silence – into protest.”

In 1985 Fehmiu finished his memoirs describing his life from the birth in 1936 in Sarajevo, life in Kosovo until 1956, but he waited to publish them until 2001 in a book “Brilliant and Scary” which was published by Samizdat B92.

The actor had two sons, Uliks and Hedon, from his marriage to actress Branka Petrić.