Thursday, March 12, 2015

Double S: Sheybal and Silk….Day 71 of Bond 365

Things are not going to end well for Kronsteen (right)
Vladek Sheybal
Born this day in 1923
Kronsteen in From Russia with Love

Vladek Sheybal played Kronsteen, the Chess player and secret SPECTRE agent in From Russia With Love. He was born Wladyslaw Sheybal in Poland and he has quite a fascinating history. Born and living in Poland, he was part of the Polish Underground during World War II. He was captured and interred, twice, and managed to escape. After the war, he gravitated towards acting even though his father wanted him to become an architect. He attended the Stranislavsky School of Acting and then Drama Director’s School. He became a leading actor at the National Theatre in Warsaw. He received notice and critical acclaim for his role in Andrzej Wajda’s Kanal (1957) about the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. It is a powerful and tragic film; if you haven’t watched any Wajda, search out his films.

Sheybal traveled to England for a scholarship and decided to stay. Although he could speak French, Italian, and German, he did speak English very well and it was a detriment to his ability to get acting jobs. He went back to school, this time Oxford to study English literature. Eventually, he taught drama and acted at the university’s Opera Club. It led to a position at BBC. By way of Sean Connery’s girlfriend at the time (Diane Cilento), Sheybal took the role of Kronsteen.

In his post-Bond film role world, he was often cast as a spy – The Saint, Secret Agent and S*P*Y*S. He worked with directors Ken Russell and Cecil B. DeMille and interestingly, he played Dr. Doug Jackson in the television series UFO (this connection will make sense when you read about Jack Silk below). Sheybal was apparently a perfectionist and was quoted as saying, “I’d rather not watch myself on the screen because I get angry and ask, ‘Why did I do that?’”

Jack Silk, acting and stunts
Jack Silk
Passed away this day in 2005
Stunts for Thunderball

Jack Silk was an Englishman who worked as both an actor and as a stuntman. Silk got his start as a stuntman in the 1958 A Night to Remember about the sinking of the Titanic and two years later, he portrayed a police driver for Dead Lucky. His acting career spanned a little over twenty years with 12 credits to his name, while Silk’s stunt work totaled 15 credits over about 15 years. He had a mix of film and television according to his profile.

Looking over his credits, he worked on one particularly interesting series called UFO. It’s set in a near future Earth in which aliens kidnap and kill humans for their body parts. The series ran for four years and received an 8.1 IMDB rating. 

© Copyright. Michele Brittany. 2011 - 2015. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, and photos are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without written permission.

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