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Born Jan. 16, 1892, in Strakonice; died Jan. 8, 1957, in Prague. Czech theatrical figure, actor, stage director, and puppeteer. People’s Artist of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (1948).
Skupa began working at the Plzeň Puppet Theater as a designer in 1916 and later worked there as a puppeteer, performing with the puppet Kašpárek. In 1930 he organized the Theater of Spejbl and Hurvínek in Plzeň. Its principal heroes were made after Skupa’s own sketches—Spejbl in 1920 and Hurvínek in 1926. These two puppets became so popular that their names have entered the language. In 1944, Skupa was incarcerated in a Nazi prison, from which he escaped. From 1945 he performed in Prague. Beginning in 1929, Skupa often performed abroad with his theater. He toured in the USSR in 1949. From 1933 to 1957 he was president of the International Puppeteers Union. Skupa was awarded the State Prize of the Czechoslovak Socialist Repubic in 1955.