Nicu Constantin died tragicomically: the life and career of one of the most appreciated Romanian comedy actors

Nicu Constantin was one of the most appreciated Romanian comedy actors. He was born on July 31, 1938, in Eforie, and as a child he worked in all sorts of jobs: assistant in a bakery, refreshment vendor on the beach, newspaper seller, baggage handler, baggage handler at the train station, etc.

He was a generous and giving man to everyone around him, and the money he earned he gave to needy families. Moreover, Nicu Constantin had to give up his studies and work to help his family with money.

As a child, he discovered his passion for art. At the age of 12, he went to plays and recited poems, and later, in 1960, he was hired by the Constantin Tănase Revue Theatre. In 1954 he came to Bucharest, where a family acquaintance had promised him a place in the circus, after he had hoped for a job with the Army Street Ensemble. However, he was not allowed to work there, as he was a minor, so he took a job as an electrician at the Electromontaj company.

In Bucharest he met his former teacher from the Navy, Andrei Müller, with whom he would form an artistic brigade in the company, called “Scurtcircuit”. In 1959, he made his television debut with Margareta Pâslaru and Marina Voica, and, as I said, in 1960 he was employed by the Constantin Tănase Revival Theatre.

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Thus, between 1960 and 2000, he worked and performed more than nine thousand performances on the stage of this theatre. Moreover, between 1979 and 1982, Constantin was also an actor of the Operetta Theatre “Ion Dacian”.

Nicu Constantin in The Magic Circle, directed by David Reu, 1975
Nicu Constantin in the film The Magic Circle, directed by David Reu, 1975

In 1966, Nicu Constantin made his film debut in “Împușcături pe portativ”, he was then cast in productions for the small and big screen such as “Vin cicliștii” (1968), directed by Aurel Miheles, alongside Anna Széles, Mircea Albulescu and Ștefan Tapalagă, in “Sorcovitorul…voluntar” (1973), directed by Dan Mihăescu, with Carmen Stănescu and Dem Rădulescu, in “Lupușor și mieluțu” (1975), directed by Ovidiu Dumitru, and the list goes on.

Nicu Constantin’s credits include more than 30 short and feature films, 600 radio shows and more than 300 television shows. In 2005, at the UNITER Gala, he received the special prize for revue theatre, and a year later, the UNITER prize for lifetime achievement.

I’m an ordinary man (from time to time)…
but a bit of a nutter (from time to time).
I’m a little sentimental (from time to time)…
but I do jump over the horse (from time to time), by Nicu Constantin

In terms of awards and distinctions, the most important distinction would be that of February 7, 2004, when the President of Romania Ion Iliescu awarded Nicu Constantin the Order of Cultural Merit in the rank of Officer, Category D – “Performing Arts”, “in appreciation of his entire activity and for his dedication and interpretative talent in the service of the performing arts”.

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Nicu Constantin
Nicu Constantin, archive photo

Nicu Constantin was holding on to his shoes even on his deathbed

In May 2009, Nicu Constantin was admitted to the Military Hospital. He is breathing heavily and is mostly on life support. A few weeks after his admission, doctors hoped that the critical moment had passed. But the situation worsened.

“After four months in the hospital, on September 15, 2009, at around 4:45 p.m., the second cardiorespiratory arrest that day stopped his weak heartbeat for good,” according to sources.

Nicu Constantin with Tamara Buciuceanu-Botez, archive photo

But just two hours before the artist was to go his final way, after his first heart attack at the 14th hour, the actor woke up, breathed freely and jokingly addressed his audience: “Did you think I was dead?”. Then, sadly, he passed away.

Nicu Constantin remains in the collective memory as one of Romania’s greatest comedians, who held his own and had a fine sense of humour until the last moment.

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