Karel Effa (1922-1993)

Personality in Film Art Section

Focus Mode

Karel Effa’s original name was Karel Effenberger. Even though he was not born in Prague on 23th May 1922, we may consider him as an inhabitant of Příbram. As an illegitimate child, he was educated in Březové Hory, which is a part of Příbram where inhabitants are very proud of him. He spent his childhood there and also studied primary school. He returned to Prague but kept returning to Příbram in his memories. His autobiography Ve znamení náhody is an example of his memories from Příbram.

He studied Business Academy in Beroun but didn’t finish his studies. In  1941 Effa became a member of the Military Unit in Hradec Králové which soon became the Czech Government Army. When serving with this army as a soldier in Italy, he learned about the cruelty of war yet also solidarity, dedication and friendship. All of that is described in his memoir.

He remained in the army even after the war. He served as a sergeant in Vít Nejedlý Army Art Ensemble and soon received an offer for a role in a movie by director Jiří Weiss Uloupená hranice (A Stolen Border) which finally led to his future acting career. Even though he had no acting education, he had a great sense of humour and was often invited to participate in shows and theatre comedies. He started his acting career in Satire Theatre in Prague in 1947 and then worked in Music Theatre in Karlín where he worked up until 1979 with 5-years break. He also performed in ABC Theatre and Semafor.

He debuted in film in 1947 with his role in Uloupená hranice (A Stolen Border). In the same year, he appeared in 5 more movies, for example in comedy Poslední mohykán (Last of the Mohicans) or Nikdo nic neví (Nobody knows anything). Till the end of the 1940s, he appeared in some more comedies – Železný dědek (Iron Grandpa), Rodinné trampoty oficiála Tříšky or in dramas Ves v pohraničí (Village on borderline) or Daleká Cesta (Far Way) by Alfréd Radok.

Even though Effa never performed any main character and was a so-called “big actor of small roles“ he managed to attract attention even in his small parts. He was talented, seriously and devotedly learned his characters and his physical appearance - slim figure and big aquiline nose – almost predestined him to play roles of villains. Best period of his career was the 1960s and beginning of 1970s when he appeared in smaller roles of comedies such as Baron Prášil (1961), Až přijde kocour (1963), Limonádový Joe aneb Koňská opera (1964), Kdo chce zabít Jessii (1966), Šíleně smutná princezna (1968), Zabil jsem Einsteina, pánové (1970), Pane, vy jste vdova (1970), Čtyři vraždy stačí, drahoušku (1970) or Na kometě (1970). In the 1970s, he appeared in Cirkus v cirkuse (1975), children movie Ať žijí duchové (1977), detective parody by Oldřich Lipský Adéla ještě nevečeřela (1977) or horror fairy tale Deváté srdce Juraje Herze.

In 1980s Effa appeared in TV series such as Třicet případů majora Zemana, Dnes v jednom domě, Křeček v noční košili, Létající Čestmír or Nemocnice na kraji města. He performed smaller roles in Adameus by Miloš Forman or Perinbaba by Juraj Jakubisko. He also composed some tramp songs. Karel Effa received Award “Zasloužilý pracovník československé kinematografie” (Meritorious Worker of Czechoslovak Cinematography) in 1982.

His last movie was TV fairy tale A co ten ruksak, králi. Then he appeared in children's series Arabela in 1990. At that time, he was seriously ill and hardly recognisable due to administred medicaments. He had returned to Příbram shortly before his death when he had been hospitalized for a few months. Karel Effa died on 11 June 1993 in Prague.


Pikartová, Táňa. Kruh bravurního herce Karla Effy se v Příbrami uzavřel. Příbramský deník, 2005, roč. 14, č. 27, s. 4. ISSN 1210-7360.

BIČÍK, Marek. Komik ve filmu i v životě: Karel Effa bavil filmové diváky i své herecké kolegy. Mladá fronta Dnes. 2006, roč. 17, č. 176, s. 5, příloha. ISSN 1210-1168.

Author: Hana Pegová, Knihovna Jana Drdy v Příbrami