He lost his memory and relearned the alphabet in his old age: Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila died in poverty, with only ten people at his head

Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila was one of our country’s most talented comedians. Over the years, he has played in countless Romanian films, which has assured him, without fail, a place in the tribune of the “immortals”.

You’ve seen Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila in Nea Mărin Miliardar, in Bachus’s Secret, but also in many, many other films from our country.

Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila in the film with clean hands
Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila, in the film “With clean hands” – 1973

Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila was made for acting: “He was extraordinary!”

Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila was born on February 3, 1925, in Brăila.

Between 1949 and 1954, Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila acted at the Maria Filotti Theatre in Brăila in plays such as La Ilie bun și vesel by Ion Damian, O Scrisoare Pierdută by I. L. Caragiale, Poveste de Dragoste by Margarita Aligher, Burghezul Gentilom by Moliere, Bădăranii by Carlo Goldoni, Nunta lui Kecinski by Suhovo Kobalin and Ultima Oră by Mihail Sebastian.

He made his film debut in 1957 and later starred in Chocolate with Peanuts (1978), Paschal (1974), Nea Martin the Billionaire (1979), Elixir of Youth (1978). The Secret of Bachus (1984), by Geo Saizescu, which was also the last great role of Ștefan Mihăilescu Brăila.

“I worked with the best actors of the time. The Golden Pleiade. For the role of Bachus, I had my eye on Ștefan Mihăilescu Brăila from the beginning. He was extraordinary! He studied the role and then got perfectly into the skin of Bachus from the first moment. He had an icy stare that seemed to cut like a laser,” Geo Saizescu once said of the actor.

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By Decree No. 3 of 13 January 1964 of the State Council of the Romanian People’s Republic, the actor Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila was awarded the title of Emeritus Artist of the Romanian People’s Republic “for outstanding merits in his work in the field of theatre, music and fine arts”.

He was also awarded with the Order of Cultural Merit 3rd class (1967) “for outstanding merits in the field of dramatic arts”.

stefan-mihailescu-braila-story-story
Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila, in his youth – archive image

He ended up in abject poverty

Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila’s end was not worthy of an actor of his stature. He died in poverty, and ten people attended his funeral. But not before he faced serious medical problems that turned the last years of his life into an endless purgatory.

“He was by no means a comfortable guy. He was moody. But now that time has passed, I can say we all have that. When he was upset, it was best not to push it, to let him get over it. When you were looking for something and couldn’t find it and he saw you couldn’t find it, he’d come and say: Well, maybe you didn’t!

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One day, I have no work, when he was looking for his glasses, in a terrible hurry because he was late for the show, and he kept rehearsing: Where did I put them? Where did I put them? And I say: But maybe you didn’t. Once he turned to me: I’ll put you somewhere. That’s when I realized it was a one-sided thing. It goes from him to me; the other way round it’s better not to”, said Florin Mihăilescu-Brăila, his son, about his father in the magazine Taifasuri.

Moreover, in the same interview, Mihăilescu-Brăila junior stated that when it came to theatre, the senior was very drastic. “Only once in his whole career did it happen to him to forget that he had a show. They called him from the theater and went crazy, I didn’t know where he was… Luckily he had a smaller role.”

According to Dan Negru’s later accounts, the actor died in poverty after a long suffering.

“Mircea Albulescu told me. One of the greatest actors, Ștefan Mihăilescu-Brăila died forgotten and in poverty in 1996.

Albulescu told me that the actor had a stroke and lost his memory and was forced to start his life from scratch, to relearn the alphabet, walking and reading. He spent the last weeks of his life alone in a hospital in Bucharest and about 10 people attended his funeral,” said the TV presenter.

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