Hanna Skarzanka (1917-1992)
Actress and Singer

Written by Margaret Odrowaz-Sypniewska



Hanna Szarzanka or "Hanny" as she was known to her friends and family was born on March 8, 1917 in Minsk, and died on November 11, 1992 in Warsaw, Poland. Hanna is buried in the Varsovian Evangelican Cemetary in Warsaw, Poland (N-2-72). In 1937, Hanna began her studies in the agricultural department of the University of Stefan Batory, and at the Conservatory in Vilna. Later she changed to studies, in acting, in Warsaw, Poland. From 1940-1941 she was at the Little Theater in Vilna. In 1941 Hanna prepared to debut in the Polish State Dramatic Theater under the management of Stanislaw Perzanonowski, but the war stopped her plans. After the Germans occupied Vilna, she worked as a waitress in the German soldier's mess hall, and gathered information for the Polish Military Intelligence. Her information helped in the rescue of Eugene Chylinski from the prison in L~ukiszkach. In 1944 the Red Army began to show their presense in Vilna, but her theatrical debut was on December 3, 1944 in "An Evening with Mickiewiczowski" under the direction of Stanislaus Milskiego at the Polish Dramatic Theater in Vilna, Lithuania. After the war, Hanna worked in the Vilnius Theatre. From 1944-1945 she appeared in the Pomeranian Theater. From 1945-1946 she was in the Polish theater (Teatro Polski) in Poznan, Poland, performing for the Army; and in 1949-1952 she was performing in the National Theater in Warsaw. From 1952, Hanna was involved in the Solidarity movement, which was introduced to her by George Popiel~uszke. After this she did work for and performed in churches. In 1982 she was manager of the Museum of the Varovian Archdiocese. Hanna's sister was named Barbara and she studied philosophy; and her brother Edward was an actor. In 1988, Hanna returned to the Atheneum Theater. Hanna was a talented singer and she performed in a cabaret-type musical called The Starling.


Hanna is the mother of Ewa Skarzanka, also known as Eve Skazanka Przybyska and Eve Stepkowska. Ewa was born on June 11, 1944 in Vilna, Lithuania. She made her theatrical debut on November 30, 1967. And sadly Eva died only a few months before I put up this page, on March 18, 2005. Ewa is buried in the Evangelican Reformed Cemetary on Mlynarska Street in Warsaw, Poland. We did not learn of her death until March 15, 2006, when I discovered a page with photographs by professional photographer named Janusz Sobolewski (see below). One of these photographs was of Hanna and Ewa in their apartment in Warsaw.

Eve Skarzanka

Ewa/Eve studied and perfomed in the Varsovian National Theater. She also appeared in the New Theater in Zabrzu and the Jaracza Theater in Olstynie. During World War II she worked with Olgeird L~ukaszewicz in an artistic presentation for the Museum of the Varsovian Archdiocese. Eve (Ewa) appeared in monodramas following this. Ewa was married to Charles Stepkowski, the father of Catherine, both Catherine's parents were in movies.


Charles Stepkowski

Karol/Charles was born September 9, 1945, in Warsaw, Poland. Charles completed his studies in 1967 in Warsaw, and his theatrical debut at the Warsaw State Theater on November 23, 1967. Charles worked in the General Theater in Warsaw (1967-1968); the Polish National Theater in Stettin (1977-82); Sundries (1982-1986); the Comedy Theater (1986-1990); and Northern (1990-1994).

After seeing the name Stepkowski I began to get curious since it closely resembles a name in my husband's family tree, Stepnakowski/Stempnakowski. I found that:

"There are two Polish villages are named Stepina (30 km SW of Rzeszow) and Stepnica (30 km N of Szczecin, exact location 53°38'59" N, 14°37'25" E). And three much smaller hamlets are called Stepien, two in the North of the country (one 10 km N of Szczecinek - see map -, and one between Braniewo and Frombork,, not far away from the border with the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad." This quote was taken from the Stepien website

Stempin is a variant of Stepkowski, as found in the province of Kalisz and the name results from a phonetic transcription of the original name by German occupation authorities during the partition of Poland between Russia, Austria and Prussia. Stempien, Stempkowski and Stempinski are variants mainly seen in North America and in Poland. Stemp in the USA is a shortened version of Stepkowski.

What is interesting is that my own husband's has a grandfather named Stempnakowski (he added the "m" to his name to facilitate better pronounciation) and an uncle named Stepnakowski. Leo Stempnakowski often called himslef Leo Stempel. I am not sure if these names have any common background, but I am hoping to find out.


Catherine Skazanka is also known as Catherine Stepkowska. Catherine was born around 1974. My own son Matthew was born in 1973 and graduated from High School in 1991. Catherine is shown as graduating in 1992. She then went on to study at the Theatrical Academy in Warsaw. From 1992-1994, Catherine worked in the theater in Tarnowie. Then in 1998 she was an actress in the New Theater in Warsaw, Poland. Thus following in the footsteps of her mother and her grandmother. See Catherine's film biography at:

Catherine Skarzanka

On this page I will try to detail the life of Hanna Skarzanka, her daughter Ewa/Eva, and her grand-daughter Catherine. They are all actresses in Poland, and all have lived much of their lives in Warsaw. Since June 1995, I have been hoping to find more information about this family, since we think it relates to that of Nadia Larsen, whom I have featured on my website, along with my own. Nadia has searched for her family for many years. Thay were separated since World War II.

Just recently, I discovered some photographs of Hanna Szarzanka at the studio of Janusz Sobolewski. His studio is in Warsaw, Poland. Click HERE for his website. His e-mail is: "info@fotoinfo.pl" These photos can be order from him via e-mail to the address shown on this page.

One of Hanna's films The Life of Matthew (aka Matthew's Days) which was directed by Zywot Mateusza, is featured at the site of the Polish Film Festival. This movie previewed in 1967 and is 80 minutes long.

2006 Polish Film Festival in California, U.S.A.


This is the cover of an album featuring the voice of Hanna Skarzanka. The album is called Hanna Skarzanka Romanza. A CD version of this album was released in 2002 ($14.95-U.S.). Hanna is also one of the singers on an 5-CD set called Szpilman - Musical Portrait. This album was released by the Polish Radio in 2000. Hanna Skarzanka's Zlota kolekcja is available from EMI-POP. It premiered on February 16, 2002. Another album called The Music of Piotr Lachert has Hanna featured.

However, to date, I have been unable to obtain these albums in any Polish stores, online sources, or in major music stores.

The Pianist by Roman Polanski got many awards, nominations, and prizes. The film won the "Palme D'Or" at the Cannes Film Festival. Of course, the movie was based on the life of Wladyslaw Szpilman (b. 1911). Szpilman was a Polish-Jewish musician who worked for the Polish Radio when the Nazis invaded Poland during World War II. Szpilman had an actor friend named Andrzej Bogucki who helped him live during the war.

The movie sparked a renewed interest in Szpilman's piano music and his songs, thus the 5-CD album. Hanna's sings only one of Szpilman's nineteen popular songs. Szpilman's has been compared to Cole Porter, George Gershwin, and Paul McCartney.