December 18th, 2011
06:53 AM ET

Vaclav Havel, Czech dissident, playwright, politician dead at 75

Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, one of the leading anti-Communist dissidents of the 1970s and 1980s, has died at the age of 75, Czech Television announced Sunday.

Havel, a puckish, absurdist playwright turned political activist, spent four and a half years in prison for opposing Czechslovakia's Communist government before emerging as a leader of the Velvet Revolution that swept it aside in 1989.

He went on to become president of Czechoslovakia, and of the Czech Republic when the country split in two at the end of 1992.

A deeply serious thinker given to long, rambling statements in presidential speeches and conversation, Havel also had an impish sense of humor, reportedly whizzing through the long corridors of Prague Castle on a scooter after becoming president.

It was his love of rock and roll as much as his moral outrage at the Communist system that brought him to prominence.

He co-wrote the influential Charter 77 anti-Communist declaration in protest at the arrest of a Czechoslovak rock band, the Plastic People of the Universe.

A perennial contender for the Nobel Peace Prize, Havel never won, but remained active in anti-Communist causes from Cuba to China until his death.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. ┴┴∩И╛╛∩Я ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    "It was his love of rock and roll as much as his moral outrage at the Communist system that brought him to prominence."
    I wonder what his favorite rock band was..
    @cnn could you find out?

    December 18, 2011 at 8:22 am | Report abuse |
  2. ┴┴∩И╛╛∩Я ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    did he like megadeth? or slayer? or dave matthews band?

    December 18, 2011 at 8:24 am | Report abuse |
  3. Tomas

    He liked Velvet Unerground, Rolling Stones, both Mick Jagger and Lou Reed were his personal friends

    December 18, 2011 at 12:13 pm | Report abuse |
  4. ┴┴∩И╛╛∩Я ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    the story should say.. " he had a love for CLASSIC rock" the kind the play on oldies 95fm..

    December 18, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ┴┴∩И╛╛∩Я ( ½ ELF slayer & ½ BUGBEAR KILLER )

    mick jagger scares me... i wish he would get a face lift

    December 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Old Mick is looking like a bloodhound these days...
    His face looks like it's melting...

    December 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Report abuse |