08 february 2023



Branka Veselinović, an important Serbian and Yugoslav actress has left us. Branka was one of the original members of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre ensemble which she joined in 1947 when the theatre was founded. She was the last surviving members of that famous ensemble, hand picked and made up of the best actors in the entire country. Branka spent nearly her entire working life with the ensemble until the day she retired in 1978 and and beyond, making regular appearances in a number of different productions. She continued appearing in her last role of Dundo Niko in The Miser by Marin Držić until 2007. In that ensemble she met her lifetime companion, actor and translator Mlađa Veselinović whom she was married to for 64 years, until his death in 2012.

She appeared in around 40 different productions at the YDT, some of the most important ones in the history of YDT and worked with some of the most prominent directors in works by authors such as Büchner, Dostoyevsky, Turgenyev, Chekhov, Pirandello, Mayakovsky…. Even so, her talent for comedy was her strongest suit. And she used it generously, especially in works by Nušić, Gogol, Goldoni, Plautus… This talent and her cheerful disposition made her one of the most prominent actresses during the golden age of Radio Belgrade, especially in the famous radio show “Veselo Veče”.

Branka Veselinović was born in Stari Bečej on 16th September, 1918, sixth child of Jovanka and Aleksandar Ćosić. She studied acting at the Acting School of the National Theatre in Belgrade. After completing the second year she moved to Novi Sad as an intern with the Serbian National Theatre. There she worked as an actress until 1940 when she returned to Belgrade. In Belgrade she performed at the Artistic Theatre (1940–1942) and later on at the National Theatre (1944–1947). She joined the Yugoslav Drama Theatre the day it first opened. She became a member of the YDT ensemble on 1st August, 1947 where she remained until her retirement on 31st August, 1978.

Even though they had no children of their own, Branka and Mlađa Veselinović dedicated an important part of their live to helping children. They set up the Branka and Mlađa Veselinović Fund for helping children with disabilities. Thanks to their humanitarian work, Branka Veselinović spent four years working as a UNICEF ambassador. In addition to her humanitarian work, and for as long as hear health permitted, she travelled, organised and performed humanitarian productions bringing good cheer to those who needed it the most – children, the elderly and the sick.

For her artistic and humanitarian work, Branka Veselinović received countless prizes and awards. Among them are the Order of Labour with golden wreath, the Branislav Nušić lifetime achievement award for comedy actors (at the Nušić Days theatre festival in Smederevo, 1993), Sterijino Pozorje award for her portrayal of Gina in the production of The Bereaved Family (1964), Vuk Award (2004)…

She often went on tours with poet Desanka Maksimović and recited her poetry.

She also worked as volunteer fire-fighter and achieved the rank of 1st class officer.

Branka Veselinović’s remains will be buried at the Alley of Distinguished Citizens at the New Cemetery in Belgrade. The Yugoslav Drama Theatre will hold a memorial service for Branka Veselinović in due course.

Tamara Vučković Manojlović, director of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre on hearing the news of the passing of Branka Veselinović: Her unique life, her humanitarian work and dedication to the art of theatre have left an indelible mark on a whole era and on the history of the Yugoslav Drama Theatre.