Havel, Václav

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Portrait of Vaclav Havel (click to view image source)
Vaclav Havel
(to view image author and license, click here)
Name
Havel, Vaclav Gender: M
born on 5 October 1936 at 15:00 (= 3:00 PM )
Place Prague, Czech Republic, 50n05, 14e26
Timezone MET h1e (is standard time)
Data source
Quoted BC/BR
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Fisher
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_libcol.18.gif 12°08' s_mo.18.gif s_gemcol.18.gif 17°34 Asc.s_aqucol.18.gif 00°24'



Biography

Czech nationalist, playwright and president, a thorn in the side of the Communist Party and the Czech government for 20 years through his political protest. As a playwright, Havel gained international recognition in 1968. Because he could not remain silent about the persecution of fellow Czech artists, Havel was incarcerated by the Communist Party. By 1989, he had spent at least five years in prison. When world changes shattered Czechoslovakia in November 1989, he became a major symbol of the emerging freedom. The Velvet Revolution occurred on 12/29/1989, when Havel was sworn in as President, sharing his power with Dubcek and ending 40 years of Communist rule. Havel continues to be honored as an international symbol of courage and freedom. In February 1990, he received a standing ovation after his speech on freedom and democracy before both houses of the U.S. Congress.

Havel grew up in a comfortable bourgeois family. His father, a real estate developer and entrepreneur employed a cook, maid, and chauffeur to help run the household. During WW II, the family continued to live in comfort even after a bomb destroyed the family home in Prague. The family finished the war on their country estate in Moravia. Havel and his younger brother Ivan, born in 1938, lived an idyllic childhood. While Ivan played outside with the other boys, Vaclav preferred to sit inside and quietly read his father's books. A childhood friend, film director Milos Forman was Havel's dorm leader at a boarding school outside of Prague. Chubby and lacking agility in sports, Havel always displayed good sportsmanship despite getting his nose bloodied during the boys' boxing matches.

At 12, Havel witnessed the bloodless Communist coup ending the fledgling four-year-old second Czech republic. In 1948, the Communist party confiscated the family holdings and his father was imprisoned. Upon his release, he became the administrative advisor in Lucerna, the shopping complex he had once owned. As a privileged teen, Havel was forbidden to attend state high school like his friends. For five years, he cleaned test tubes in a chemical laboratory and earned his degree at night school. His hunger for knowledge continued to grow and Havel began to write poetry. Outraged over the treatment of Czechoslovakia's literary intellectuals, Havel began to make secret pilgrimages to the "non-citizens" homes. He joined the new underground that met at Prague's Cafe Slavia and began to make trouble as an outsider of mainstream Czech life.

In 1956, at 20, Havel spoke out at a conference about the mistreatment of Czech's greatest poets. He was in the army from 1957-1959. writing plays that mocked the military administration. In the army, Havel recognized his ability to condemn the system by writing subversive plays criticizing the culture from the stage. Havel went to work as a stagehand in Prague's ABC Theater. In 1960, he moved to the small, dubious venue Theater on the Balustrade where he met his future wife Olga who was an usher. Havel worked the lights to building the sets at the theater. In 1963, his first important play, "The Garden Party" was performed at the theater and became a sensation with the Prague audience. He followed his success with "The Memorandum" in 1965.

In 1968, Joseph Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival produced "The Memorandum" for the New York stage. Havel was acclaimed in New York, staying for six weeks in America. He was honored with an Obie award and became an international celebrity playwright representing the new cultural talents of Prague.

Returning to Czechoslovakia, Havel began to test how far he could push the Communist government by writing articles and passing out petitions. In August 1968, the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague and Havel and his fellow intellectuals publicly debated the ideas of free speech. In the 1970s, Gustav Husak, the new general secretary clamped down on the Czech intellectual movement. Havel lost his work and was blacklisted from the Czech theaters.

Havel bought a country cottage in the northern Bohemian town of Hradecck. Dissidents from all over the country began to hold their meetings in his home and read their works when not meeting secretly in Prague. In 1975, he wrote an open letter to General Secretary Gustave Husak against the government's quiet reign of terror on the intellectuals. In 1976, he launched an appeal against the arrest of Czech radical rock group, "Plastic People of the Universe." Husak struck back by instigated a 24 hour surveillance on Havel by the secret police in order to "break him." Speaking out for truth, justice, and freedom, Havel was periodically imprisoned. His longest spell in jail was from 1979 to 1983. His arrests gained world attention with increased vocal concern from the members of the international intellectual community such as Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter, and Philip Roth.

By the late 1980s, many opposition groups to the Czech Communist government were united with similar groups in Hungary and Poland. By 1989, many Czechs believed the Soviet's Mikhail Gorbachev would not send back up troops to prop up the Czechoslovakian government. Havel became president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992. Once the Czech leader, he gave government positions to all his literary friends, causing anxiety in the country. Many of his critics feel that Havel is not an appropriate political leader. He diplomatically listens to both sides of a policy and finds difficulty making state decisions. He resigned his position in 1992 to protest the dissolution of the Czechoslovakian country. In January 1993, he became the president of the new Czech Republic. His second term ends in 2003.

Havel met his first wife, Olga Havlova, the daughter of divorced working class parents at the Prague Theater. He was three years her junior and his family did not approve of his bride as one of the common people. Olga was a devoted wife to her husband, enduring their move and constant surveillance in their country cottage. She supported her husband while he was imprisoned and endured his frequent and open dalliances with other women. His "Letters to Olga" were composed in prison between 1979 and 1982 and were published in Czechoslovakia in 1989. Unlike her husband, Olga detested public life. She sought refuge during public ceremonies as Czechoslovakia's First Lady by smoking cigarettes in the back room with staff bodyguards. The Czech public embraced her and the country mourned when she died in 1996. Havel shocked the Czech people by marrying actress Dagmar Veskrnova less than a year after his wife's death. In April 1999, Havel continues to see his popularity decline in Czech polls because of the public's dislike of his marriage. In 1999, he dropped his legal libel suit against an author, newspaper tabloids and a television station for publishing unflattering accounts of his personal and professional life.

Under stress from his first year in office, Havel gained weight, making him irritable and despondent to his colleagues. In December 1990, Havel and his wife went to a German health spa for three weeks to recover his health. Havel's lungs have never fully recovered from the bouts of pneumonia he suffered from his prison stay. A chain-smoker, Havel loves to drink, smoke and gossip with his friends. In 1996, his lung was removed because of lung cancer. In 1997, he had a ruptured colon and another bout with pneumonia.

Havel appeared before the international audience as an unusual president wearing a corduroy jacket and polka dot tie before the CNN cameras in the early days of his administration. The scruffy man with ginger colored hair and a pencil-thin mustache had tiny bedroom eyes. International political eyebrows were raised when Havel, a rock 'n roll fan, "officially" received the foreign dignitaries: Frank Zappa, Lou Reed, and the Rolling Stones.

Havel died on December 18, 2011 at his country home in Northern Bohemia.

Link to Wikipedia biography

Relationships

  • friend relationship with Reed, Lou (born 2 March 1942)
  • friend relationship with Zappa, Frank (born 21 December 1940)

Events

  • Financial : Lose significant money 1948 (Communist party confiscated family holdings)
  • Social : Joined group 1957 (Czech army)
  • Social : Left group 1959 (Czech army)
  • Work : New Job 1960 in Prague (Handyman at theater)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1963 in Prague (Play, "The Garden Party")
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1965 in Prague (Play, "The Memorandum")
  • Other Work 1975 (Letter against reign of terror)
  • Work : Begin Major Project 1976 (Appeal against arrest of rock group)
  • Social : Institutionalized - prison, hospital 1979 (Imprisoned by Communists)
  • Social : Deinstitutionalized - prison, hospital 1983 (Released from prison)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1989 (Book, "Letters To Olga")
  • Work : Gain social status 29 December 1989 (Sworn in as president of Czechoslovakia)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Great Publicity February 1990 in Washington (Standing ovation after U.S. speech)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Social : Begin Travel December 1990 (Trip to German Health Spa)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Lose social status 1992 (Czecholslovakia dissolved, no longer president)
  • Work : Gain social status January 1993 (Sworn in as president of Czech Republic)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Death of Mate 1996 (Olga)
  • Health : Medical procedure 1996 (Lung removed due to cancer)
  • Health : Acute illness 1997 (Pneumonia)
  • Health : Acute illness 1997 (Ruptured colon)
  • Crime : Law suit 1999 (Libel suit, dropped)

Source Notes

David Fisher quotes Jaroslav Mixa of Czechoslovakia, "recorded"

Categories

  • Traits : Body : Hair (Ginger colored)
  • Traits : Personality : Personality robust (Loved public life)
  • Traits : Personality : Principled strongly
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Cancer (Lung)
  • Diagnoses : Major Diseases : Pneumonia (Several cases, permanent lung damage)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Bladder (Ruptured colon)
  • Diagnoses : Body Part Problems : Surgery (Lung removed due to cancer)
  • Family : Childhood : Advantaged (Comfortable family)
  • Family : Childhood : Memories Bad (Communist Party pillaged family)
  • Family : Childhood : Memories Good (Idyllic childhood until Communist takeover)
  • Family : Relationship : Marriage - Compatible (First wife supportive)
  • Family : Relationship : Mate - Noted (Actress Dagmar Veskrnova)
  • Family : Relationship : Stress - Extramarital affairs
  • Family : Relationship : Widowed (First wife)
  • Lifestyle : Work : Stressful work
  • Lifestyle : Social Life : Friends (Drinks, smokes, and gossips with friends)
  • Lifestyle : Home : Home centered
  • Passions : Criminal Perpetrator : Civil/ Political (Speaking out for truth, justice and freedom)
  • Passions : Criminal Perpetrator : Lawsuit instigated (Libel suits, dropped)
  • Passions : Criminal Perpetrator : Prison sentence (Periodically for political crimes)
  • Vocation : Education : Public speaker
  • Vocation : Entertain/Business : Production jobs (Stagehand)
  • Vocation : Military : Military service (Czech army)
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ political (Political freedoms)
  • Vocation : Politics : Activist/ social (Truth, justice, freedom)
  • Vocation : Politics : Heads of state (President of Czechoslovakia)
  • Vocation : Writers : Playwright/ script
  • Vocation : Writers : Poet
  • Vocation : Misc. : Cleaning service (Test-tube cleaner)
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Diplomacy
  • Notable : Awards : Vocational award (Obie Award)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession

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