Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass (1940–1995)

Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass na Festiwalu Filmowym w Cannes, rok 1961 (drugi po prawej Alain Delon, z tyłu po lewej Roman Poalański).
Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass 1961 at the Cannes Film Festival. Second from right Alain Delon, left behind the actress Roman Polański

Barbara Kwiatkowska (born on 1 June 1940 in Patrowo in Kujawy) was barely 17 when she became famous overnight thanks to her title role in Tadeusz Chmielewski’s film “Eva wants to sleep” (1957). The young woman, who was completely unknown at the time, starred alongside Stanisław Mikulski playing a pupil searching for a place to sleep the day before school starts because she does not want to stay at boarding school. The film starred a lot of great actors from Polish cinema, such as Roman Kłosowski, Kalina Jędrusik, Jan Kobuszewski and Ludwik Benoit. The dialogues were written by Jeremi Przybora. Kwiatkowska, who did not have any experience as an actress, was cast through a competition in the weekly magazine “Film”. Only years later was it revealed that the casting was really just for appearance’s sake because employees of the director Tadeusz Chmielewski had already discovered the strikingly pretty young girl dancing in the short film “Epizod” (Episode) by Bronisław Brok. At the time, Kwiatkowska attended the ballet school in Warszawa (Warsaw) and dreamt of a career as a dancer. If this accidental meeting on set had not happened, she might never have appeared before the camera as an actress. Years later, Tadeusz Chmielewski, whose directorial debut was the film “Eva wants to sleep”, would recall, “The deception involved in selecting the person to play Eva was that I had already chosen Basia[1] Kwiatkowska at a much earlier stage. Even the costumes for her were already made. She knew from the start that she would win. I agreed to the competition because it was a super advertisement for the film which didn't cost us anything. Basia was an extraordinarily beautiful, quite natural girl who appeared to be quite innocent and who immediately presented an interesting contrast to the villains. At the same time, she had a talent for acting”[2].

The choice of the unknown dancer from a village in Kujawy for the title role of Eva proved ideal. The success of the comedy, which was made in the style of a backyard ballad, was enormous. Barbara Kwiatkowska quickly ascended to the premier league of actresses. People marvelled at her remarkable aura and praised her for her charm and acting talent. Thousands of Polish men were beguiled by the young woman. Roman Polański, who was a film student at the film academy in Łódź, was very taken by her. When he met her for the first time in the foyer of the Grand Hotel in Łódź in 1957, she took his breath away, as he admitted years later, “She was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. Dark-haired, almost brunette, with an oval face, beautiful long eyelashes, a little stub nose and a flexible, toned body. For an eighteen-year-old, she was quite prudish and introverted so that I was not initially a serious candidate for her affection.”[3] When he then asked his fellow student Janusz Morgenstern about her, he answered: “She’s starring in ‘Ewa chce spać’ and is called Barbara so and so.”[4]


[1] Diminutive of Barbara – Translator’s note. 

[2] Święcicka, Agnieszka: Pierwszemu mężowi zostawiła kabriolet, dla drugiego zakończyła karierę. Oto historia polskiej Brigitte Bardot, in:, 2/3/2021, URL: (last accessed on 13/9/2021).

[3] Gańczak, Filip: Taka była pierwsza żona Polańskiego, in:, 6/3/2010, URL:,54738,1,1.html (last accessed on 13/9/2021).

[4] Ibid. 

Media library
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass

  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass 1961 at the Cannes Film Festival

    Left behind the actress Roman Polański, second from right Alain Delon
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass and Alain Delon

    In “The Joy of Living”, 1961
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass with her second husband, Karlheinz Böhm

    New York, 1962
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska (centre) in “The Joy of Living”

  • Leszek Zadlo, Barbara Kwiatkowska and her sister

    Package campaign as part of aid for Poland, Munich, February-March 1982
  • Package campaign as part of aid for Poland during the state of war

    Munich, February-March 1982
  • Employees of the station Radio Free Europe, February 1994

    From left to right: unknown, Jacek Kaczmarski, Leszek Zadlo, Barbara Kwiatkowska, Zbigniew Łapiński
  • Meeting in the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Munich on 12 December 1992

    Leszek Zadlo centre, Barbara Kwiatkowska right
  • Meeting in the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Munich

    Employees of the station Radio Free Europe, far right Leszek Zadlo, next to him Barbara Kwiatkowska, on 12 December 1992
  • In the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Munich, March 1993

    From left: Father Tadeusz Kirschke, Barbara Kwiatkowska, unknown
  • Jerzy Fedorowicz (left) and Barbara Kwiatkowska

    Photo: Krzysztof Litwin
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass

  • Employees of the station Radio Free Europe

    At a meeting in Warsaw
  • Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass at a meeting of the employees of the station Radio Free Europe

  • Meeting with Barbara Kwiatkowska

    Kraków, 1990s
  • The grave of Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass

    In the Rakowicki Cemetery in Kraków