Zdzisław Mrożewski, an outstanding theatre and film actor and theatre director, born on 21 May 1909 in Włocławek, Poland, and a 1932 graduate of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music Drama Faculty, who made his debut in the Polski Theatre in Toruń in his graduation year.
Before WW2 Mrożewski performed in the Volhynia Theatre in Lutsk (1933-1934), the Reduta Theatre in Warsaw (1934-1935), the “Pohulanka” Theatre in Vilnius (1935-1937), the Polski Theatre in Poznań (1937-1938), and the Słowacki Theatre in Kraków (1938-1939). In occupied Poland he worked at the City Board of Kraków, and was involved in underground theatrical life. After the War, Mrożewski returned to theatres, first in Kraków (the Stary Theatre, the Słowacki Theatre) and then in Warsaw (the Polski Theatre, the National Theatre, the Współczesny Theatre) and Łódź (the Nowy Theatre).
Next to the theatre, he also tried his hand at directing. His directorial ventures include plays such as Legend of Love by Hikmet Nazim, and Posażna jedynaczka (lit. The Well-Doweried Only Daughter) by Jan Aleksander Fredro. Mrożewski also performed in plays at the Polish Radio Theatre. He first featured on radio in 1952 as the protagonist of Pan Graba (Mr. Graba), a radio drama based on Eliza Orzeszkowa’s novel, directed by Jerzy Ronard Bujański, and made his feature-film debut in 1932 in Ułani, ułani, chłopcy malowani (Uhlans, Ulhans, the Painted Boys). After the War, he returned to acting in Warszawska premiera (The Warsaw Debut) (1950). Following several supporting roles, e.g. in Niedaleko Warszawy (Not Far from Warsaw) (1954), Pożegnania (Farewells) (1958), Westerplatte (1967), Wakacje z duchami (Holidays with Ghosts) (1970) or Noce i dnie (Nights and Days) (1975), he rose to prominence with his portrayal of President Gabriel Narutowicz in Śmierć prezydenta (Death of a President) Dir. Jerzy Kawalerowicz in 1977.
Mrożewski shared his profound knowledge with students of the PWST State Theatre School in Kraków (renamed in 2017 the AST National Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków), where he worked between 1948 and 1960, and of the Aleksander Zelwerowicz State Theatre School in Warsaw (today’s Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw). In 1932 he became a member of the ZASP Association (with honours following 1979).
Zdzisław Mroziński received several distinctions and awards. He was first distinguished in 1952 with a 3rd-degree State Award for his role in Talenty i wielbiciele (lit. Talents and Admirers). In later years he also received the Officer’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1954), the Medal of the National Education Commission (1978), and Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (1988). Finally, in 1989, he was distinguished with the 1st-degree Award of the Minister of Culture and Art for his Lifetime Achievements as an actor, and with a Commander’s Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta a year later.
He died on July 5 2002 in Warsaw, and was buried at the municipal cemetery in Włocławek.