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Henk van Ulsen passed away


by Editorial Staff in General , 16 November 2009

Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar


On Friday the 28th of August actor Henk van Ulsen (1927 – 2009) died unexpectedly in his Bussum home from a cardiac arrest. Van Ulsen was considered one of the last great classic Dutch actors. Multi-talented but always very recognizable he mainly known for his solo-performances, of which his interpretation of Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol was the most successful.

Reverend or actor

Henk van Ulsen was born in Kampen and was originally meant to become a reverend, but he went to the theatre academy in Amsterdam instead. He thought ‘both professions weren’t that much different anyway.’

Van Ulsen finished school in 1949 with accolades and would act in the theatre until his death. He took part in many theatre and television productions but solo-performances had his preference. “Eventually I think I’m at my best when I’m alone,” he said.


He never made a secret of his homosexuality. He played in The Maids by Jean Genet in 1965 and with the Haagse Comedie he starred in Jongens onder elkaar (1969) – the Dutch version of Michael Crowley’s The Boys in the Band.

He also made a wonderful solo-performance around the work of his favorite author and friend Gerard Reve: Van het een komt het ander (One thing leads to another) (1969).

Van Ulsen frequented De Schakel already, the first gay dancing of the COC, founded by his co-actor Niek Engelschman (Bob Angelo).

Poster from his first performance in the Theatre - from the collection of the Theatre Institution Netherland

Van Ulsen was a remarkable actor that really made a lasting impression with his piercing eyes and his extremely precise text treatment. His voice was enough to set him apart from all the others; he applied it for many commercials, documentaries and listening books. Van Ulsen won the Louis d’Or twice; also he won the Albert van Dalsum award and the Edison Classic. In 1980 he was knighted in the Order of Orange Nassau.




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