July 27, 2007

Playwright George Tabori Dies in Berlin

Hungarian-born playwright and director George Tabori, a legend in Germany's postwar theater world whose avant-garde works confronted anti-Semitism, has died, the Berliner Ensemble said Tuesday. He was 93.

Tabori, who as recently as three years ago dreamed of returning to stage to play the title role in Shakespeare' s "King Lear," died Monday in his apartment near the theater, the Berliner Ensemble said, noting that friends and family had accompanied him through his final days. No cause of death was given.

"George Tabori - a poet, a director, an actor, a genius of life, a truly unique human being - has reached the close of his life's cycle," the theater, founded by Berthold Brecht, said in a statement.

Born into a Jewish family in Budapest on May 24, 1914, Tabori fled in 1936 to London, where he started working for the British Broadcasting Corp., and became a British citizen. His father, and other members of his family, were killed at Auschwitz.

Tabori moved to Hollywood in the 1950s, where he worked as a scriptwriter, most notably co-writing the script for Alfred Hitchcock's 1953 film, "I Confess."

He moved to Germany in the 1970s and launched a theater career that spanned from acting to directing to writing. He used sharp wit and humor in his plays to examine the relationship between Germany and the Jews, as well as attack anti-Semitism.

Among his best-known works are "Mein Kampf," set in the Viennese hostel where Adolf Hitler lived from 1910-1913, and the "Goldberg Variations," both dark farces that poke fun at the Nazis.

"Tabori's humanity and wisdom were unique in the world of theater," Klaus Bachler, director of Vienna's leading Burgtheater, where many of Tabori's works were staged, told Austrian ORF state television.

"Our profession is poorer from his death," Bachler said. "The generosity of his art and his heart will be sorely missed."

Tabori is survived by his wife and three children.