Baron Taets van Avezaethe, Major Kees, Benny from The Hague and Bram van de Commune were some of the many characters with whom comedian Paul van Vliet (87), who died on Tuesday, became known. In the 1970s and 1980s he grew into one of the most famous comedians in the Netherlands.
His theater conferences were even released as a single and made charts. Later, his work became mainly dominated by personal commitment and he became the first ambassador for Unicef.
Leiden Student Cabaret
Van Vliet, who is a master of law, was already active in cabaret during his studies. He is part of the Leidsch Studenten Cabaret and performs at home and abroad. He made his radio debut in the 1950s when he was in military service. He was first seen on TV at the VPRO in 1960.
Van Vliet founded Cabaret Pepijn in the 1960s. In his hometown of The Hague, the group has its own theater, where the actors initially also do the box office and the bar themselves. Pepijn is Van Vliet’s first professional ensemble. He works together with his then wife Liselore Gerritsen, actor Ferd Hugas and pianist Rob van Kreeveld.
In the early 1970s, the members went their separate ways, but theater Pepijn continued to exist under the management of Van Vliet. It will be a breeding ground for young cabaret talent. Youp van ‘t Hek, Herman Finkers, Jochem Myjer, Theo Maassen and Harrie Jekkers, among others, play there in their first years. In 2001 the hall becomes part of theater Diligentia.
Look below for an overview of Van Vliet’s life.
Van Vliet’s one-man shows start in 1971 in Scheveningen, with Eenavond aan zee. He will keep the formula for years to come. Many one-man shows follow, full of characters that appeal to a large audience. Major Kees (“Questions? No questions…”) is very recognizable for a generation that has had to endure the sense and nonsense of military service. Bram van de Commune (“You know what”) is a hippie who knows all the fads.
At that time, Van Vliet also wrote his most famous songs, such as Girls of 13 and Safe back. They are often sensitive numbers. In the theater he plays the leading role of Henry Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady in the 1990s, according to a reviewer from NRC the best Higgins ever. Due to great success, the musical runs for two years. Then he returns to his one-man shows.
In 1992 Van Vliet became a special ambassador for Unicef and in 2001 he announced that he would stop his regular shows and that he would continue to work for the United Nations Children’s Fund. He will be 65 then.
Paul van Vliet – Safe on the back of father’s bicycle
Paul van Vliet has been awarded many times. He is, among other things, an honorary citizen of The Hague, Knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion and he receives the highest award from Unicef.
In 2008 he received a Medal of Honor for Art and Science from the then Queen Beatrix. Van Vliet has a special bond with Princess Beatrix. They studied together in Leiden and in 1966 Van Vliet performed in a special program on the occasion of the intended marriage of Beatrix and Claus.
He offered Claus an overcoat and told the couple what requirements a typical Dutch overcoat should meet. “The most striking thing about a Dutch overcoat is that it should not be too striking.” The informal way in which he addressed Beatrix and Claus was unprecedented and the performance was of great significance for his further career.
Paul van Vliet – Major Kees
In 2007 he makes another trip to the stage with Anne Wil Blankers in Love Letters. In 2011 he started his own academy in Scheveningen that trains students to become professional cabaret artists/cabaret artists and entertainers.
A year later he is back on stage with the regular one-man show Zondag in Den Haag, which he plays every Sunday afternoon in the Koninklijke Schouwburg in The Hague in the following years.
In September 2013, UNICEF created the Paul van Vliet Award and awarded it for the first time. This in honor of Van Vliet’s 20th anniversary as Unicef ambassador. That year he also received the Groenman language prize and was proclaimed Hague resident of the year.
The success of Zondag in Den Haag continues with a new Sunday afternoon show, Only on Sunday, which he will continue to play until 2018. Although he could probably have attracted full houses for years to come, he decides to retire. He wants to stop at the peak.
“I can look back with great pleasure on a great career without lows,” he said in the AD two years ago. “But I always feel like there’s still something to come, that I’ll ever write the best song, or the best show that dwarfs everything I’ve done before.”
Last year, Paul van Vliet performed once more in a benefit performance for Ukraine in theater Diligentia in The Hague.
- Comedian Paul van Vliet (87) passed away
- Paul van Vliet in the Fat Van Dale. To ask? No questions!