Péter Haumann, a Kossuth and Jászai Mari Prize-winning actor, a full member of the Hungarian Academy of Arts and an actor of the nation, passed away on Saturday afternoon after a long and serious illness, the family announced. The legendary actor, remembered for countless memorable performances, was eighty-one years old.
Péter Haumann was born on May 17, 1941, in Budapest. He trained to be a doctor, but one of his teachers at the Toldy Ferenc High School, who recognized his brilliant talent, steered him towards a career in acting. His history teacher was, by the way, future Prime Minister József Antall.
After graduating from the Academy of Theatre and Film Arts, he started his career at the Csokonai Theatre in Debrecen, before moving to Pécs. He played at the newly established 25th Theatre and briefly at the József Attila Theatre.
In 1973 he joined the Madách Theatre, where he became the leading artist in the company and was seen more than 300 times in the role of Gus, the crippled theater cat in Cats. In 1988 he joined the National Theatre, then the Arizona Theatre, then the Radnóti Theatre for a year, and from 1994 to 2016 he was a member of the Katona József Theatre, where he played Harpagon in Molière’s The Miser, among other roles.
He has appeared in Hungarian films and TV dramas, with his unforgettable performance as the Patás in Indul a bakterház. He has also appeared in Fekete gyémántok, Hajnali háztetők, A hídember and Szabadság, szerelem, among others. He has also made his mark as a voice actor, and Hungarian audiences will certainly remember his distinctive voice as, for example, Gargamel in The Smurfs. He also dubbed the French actor Louis de Funès several times.
The last time the audience saw Péter Haumann on stage was last September when he returned for the 1500th anniversary performance of Cats at the Madách Theatre. The musical premiered in 1983 and the actor had already appeared in the original production. Television viewers could watch the actor for the last time in the first and second seasons of the comedy series Apatigris.
He has three children, Máté, Petra and Dávid, among whom Máté and Petra are also actors.
Over the weekend, many paid their respects to Haumann.
Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony wrote:
“Hungarian culture has suffered a huge loss. […] Film actor, character actor, voice actor… Péter Haumann was simply an actor, one of the greatest. He could do everything from tragedy to comedy, from operetta to musical, from film to series, to cartoon dubbing. There is hardly a generation in Hungary today who would not have had a defining experience from one of his performances. […]”
Journalist Vujity Tvrtko also posted on Facebook, saying:
“He was one of the biggest. As an actor, as a man! He gave great performances on stage and in films! With him, once again, an important part of our youth, of our lives, went to Heaven. We lost a lot with his death. A lot. Farewell, Master Artist.”
Many others also commemorated him, such as President Katalin Novák, Attila Mesterházy, the former president of MSZP, Tamás Mellár, an economist and mayor of Erzsébetváros and Péter Niedermüller, doctor of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, the Katona József Theatre and the Pécs Theatre.
The actor’s son, Máté Haumann said goodbye to his father with a Hamlet quote:
“Dad used to say the following a lot before he passed away:
‘Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special
providence in the fall of a sparrow. If it be now,
’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be
now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the
readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he
leaves, what is’t to leave betimes?’”
Central Theatre simply wrote:
“The King is gone.”
Sources: Femina, Index
Featured image published by MTI/Péter Haumann’s family
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.