Know Your Czech Celebrity: Karel Gott
In this new feature, I’ll be introducing the celebs who are the mainstays of the Czech tabloids. And where better to start than with legendary crooner and septuagenarian sex symbol Karel Gott?
Here, then, are 10 things you should know about the “Golden Voice of Prague”/”Sinatra of the East”/”Bringer of Good News”:
1. Gott’s big break was becoming one of the resident singers at Divadlo Semafor in 1963. The Prague theatre was at the forefront of the Czech pop scene in the early ’60s, launching the careers of several singers.
2. His breakthrough hit, released in 1963, was Oči sněhem zaváté (“Eyes Covered by Snow”).
3. He’s won the Zlatý slavík/Český slavík (Golden Nightingale/Czech Nightingale) “best male singer” award a record 37 times. He first won the prize, the winner of which is decided by a nationwide poll, in 1963. This year’s (2011’s) triumph was his 13th consecutive win since 1999.
4. He’s huge in the German-speaking world, where he has a lifetime contract with Polydor. His big breakthrough came in 1965 when he was “discovered” by Austrian producer Ossi Drechsler at the Bratislavská lýra (“Bratislava Lyre”) festival.
5. He had a six-month-long engagement at Las Vegas’s Frontier Hotel in 1967.
6. He represented Austria at the 1968 Eurovision Song Contest. The song, Tausend Fenster (“A Thousand Windows”), finished joint 13th with two points.
7. Gott signed the Communist regime’s notorious Anticharta in 1977, publicly opposing Charta 77 (“Charter 77”), a document drawn up by Václav Havel and other dissidents demanding that the Czechoslovak government respect basic human rights.
8. Gott, who turns 73 in July (2012), is married to 36-year-old Ivana Macháčková-Gottová
9. Gott became a father for the fourth time in 2008, at the age of 68, when Ivana gave birth to Nelly, his third daughter. Gott has one other daughter (Charlotte) with Ivana, and a son and a daughter (Dominika and Lucie) from two previous relationships.
10. In 2010, he ventured into hip-hop, collaborating with German rapper Bushido on Für immer jung, a single based on the Alphaville track Forever Young.