Roman Polanski Biography

Roman Polanski is a film director and producer, considered as one of the few “truly international filmmakers”. This biography of Roman Polanski provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Roman Polanski
Quick Facts

Birthday: August 18, 1933

Nationality: French

Famous: Atheists Holocaust Survivors

Age: 86 Years, 86 Year Old Males

Sun Sign: Leo

Also Known As: Rajmund Roman Thierry Polański

Born in: Paris, France

Famous as: French-Polish film director

Height: 5'5" (165 cm), 5'5" Males


Spouse/Ex-: Emmanuelle Seigner (m. 1989), Barbara Kwiatkowska-Lass (m. 1959–1962), Sharon Tate (m. 1968–1969)

father: Ryszard Liebling

mother: Bula Liebling

children: Elvis Polanski, Morgane Polanski

City: Paris

More Facts

education: National Film School in Łódź

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Roman Polanski is a celebrated film director, producer and actor who began his cinematic career making films in Poland before eventually making films in the United Kingdom, France and the United States. He made his American debut with the classic horror ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. He is regarded as a “truly international filmmaker” as he has made films in many countries. Born shortly before the World War II, he endured a very difficult childhood. He barely survived the Holocaust in which his mother died and was separated from his father for some time. Even before he had turned 12 he had witnessed all the horrors of war—he had been savagely beaten, starved, tortured and humiliated. As a young boy he had taken a fascination for films and addictively watched movies in order to escape the harsh realities of life. He was reunited with his father after the war and went to the National Film School in Poland. His first feature film was the Polish ‘Knife in the Water’ which garnered international recognition giving him the chance to take his work to a wider audience. He made films in several countries and ultimately made his American debut with ‘Rosemary’s Baby’. The brilliant director also made headlines for an infamous child sexual abuse case during the 1970s.

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Roman Polanski
Childhood & Early Life
  • He was born as Rajmund Roman Thierry Polanski in France to Bula and Ryszard Polanski, a painter and manufacturer of sculptures. The family moved to his father’s native place, Poland when he was three.
  • The World War II started and his family endured terrible sufferings during the Holocaust. The young boy was separated from his family; he would later learn that his mother perished in the Nazi camps.
  • He struggled to live and was helped by some kind people in surviving the harsh situations. He was reunited with his father in 1944.
  • He loved watching movies from a young age and was fascinated with the idea of film making. He attended the National Film School in Lodz, Poland.
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  • He began his career as an actor and appeared in several of the films of celebrated Polish director, Andrzej Wajda, including ‘Pokolenie’ (1954), and ‘Zaczarowany Rower’ (1954).
  • He made his directorial debut in 1955 with a short film ‘Rower’ which was a semi-autobiographical feature film in which he also starred.
  • While at the Film School, he made several short films of which ‘Two Men and a Wardrobe’ (1958) and ‘When Angels Fall (1959)’ received considerable recognition. He graduated in 1959.
  • His made his directorial debut in 1962 with ‘Knife in the Water’, a drama film, shot using only three actors. The film was internationally recognized and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
  • In 1965, he made ‘Repulsion’, a British psychological horror starring Catherine Deneuve, Ian Hendry and John Fraser. The story is about a young woman who starts reliving traumas of her past when left alone in her home.
  • His directorial debut in America was with the critically acclaimed psychological horror ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ in 1968 which was based on a best selling novel of the same name by Ira Levin.
  • One of his most famous films, ‘Chinatown’ was released in 1974. It starred Jack Nicholson and Faye Dunaway and was based on a series of disputes over the southern California water.
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  • In 1979, his romance film, ‘Tess’ was out. It tells the story of a strong-willed young peasant girl who realizes about her connections to an aristocratic family. The film won three Academy awards.
  • He made a romantic thriller, ‘Bitter Moon’ in 1992 which had Hugh Grant, Kristin Scott Thomas and Peter Coyote. It was a Franco-British-American movie with different titles in different countries.
  • ‘The Pianist’ (2002) is another one of his more significant movies. Based on the World War II memoir of the same name by Wladyslaw Szpilman, it was a critically acclaimed as well as commercially successful film.
  • In 2010, he directed a political thriller ‘The Ghost Writer’ which was adapted from the novel ‘The Ghost’ by Robert Harris. It revolves around the story of a ghost writer hired to write about a former Prime Minister.
Major Works
  • The neo-noir film, ‘Chinatown’ was a highly acclaimed movie inspired by the California Water Wars. It is part mystery and part psychological drama which features a multi-layered story. The film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards.
  • One of his best known films is ‘The Pianist’ which was a biographical drama based on the life of the real life pianist, Wladyslaw Szpilman. The movie won significant critical praise and won several prestigious awards including three Academy Awards.
Awards & Achievements
  • He won the Academy Award for Best Director for ‘The Pianist’ in 2002.
  • He is the recipient of several Cesar Awards, including the C�sar Award for Best Director for ‘Tess’ (1979), ‘The Pianist’ (2002), and ‘The Ghostwriter’ (2011).
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He had a brief marriage to actress Barbara Lass from 1959 to 1961.
  • His second marriage was to rising actress Sharon Tate whom he married in 1968. She was pregnant with their first child when she was brutally murdered by the Manson family members. This tragedy would haunt Polanski forever.
  • He married French actress Emmanuelle Seigner in 1989. The couple has two children.
  • Polanski has had a very controversial life. In 1977, he was arrested for the rape of a 13 year old girl and was indicted on six counts of criminal behaviour.

1. Chinatown (1974)

  (Thriller, Mystery, Drama)

2. Rosemary's Baby (1968)

  (Drama, Horror)

3. The Pianist (2002)

  (Drama, War, Biography, Music)

4. Le locataire (1976)

  (Drama, Thriller)

5. G.G. Passion (1966)


6. Repulsion (1965)

  (Horror, Thriller, Drama)

7. Zezowate szczescie (1960)


8. The Tragedy of Macbeth (1971)

  (Biography, History, Drama)


Academy Awards(Oscars)
2003 Best Director The Pianist (2002)
Golden Globe Awards
1975 Best Director - Motion Picture Chinatown (1974)
BAFTA Awards
2003 Best Film The Pianist (2002)
1975 Best Direction Chinatown (1974)

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- Roman Polanski Biography
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Last Updated
- July 25, 2017

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