Fabijan Šovagović was born on 4 January 1932 in Ladimirevci, a village in Slavonia, near Valpovo. He was the youngest of four children of Josip and Tonka. Both parents died young, and Fabijan and his brother and sisters were taken care of by the family of their uncle Šima. The events of his early childhood were later on depicted by Fabijan Šovagović himself in his play “Sokol ga nije volio” (aka Sokol Did Not Love Him). He took his A-levels in civil engineering in Osijek. For few months he even worked as a builder; however theatre already got under his skin. He staged and acted in the amateur theatricals in Ladimirevci (David Štrbac in “Jazavac pred sudom” aka The Badger in Court by Kočić), and then in a cultural club “Milica Križan” in Osijek. In the fall of 1953 he enrols acting at the Academy of theatrical arts in Zagreb. In 1957 he got his degree and was engaged in the Zagreb drama theatre (ZDK), which will later be named after its founder Branko Gavella.
He played his first “official” role during his studies in “Golgota” (aka Golgotha) by Miroslav Krleža. By 1965 he played some twenty roles in the ZDK (Neighbour in “Ljuljačka na tužnoj vrbi” by Božič, Lord in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Arlekin in Kaštelan’s “Pijesak i pjena”, Dživulin in “Dundo Maroje” by Marin Držić, Captain in Strindberg’s Dance of Death, etc.).
In late 1966 he becomes a member of the Drama at the Croatian National Theatre in Zagreb, after a period of having a status of a free lancer. Until 1972 at the boards of the largest theatre he played in twelve plays (Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Aleksa in “Sumnjivo lice” aka Suspicious Person by Nušić, Demosten in Kušan’s “Spomenik Demostenu”, Lenbach in “U agoniji” aka Agony by Miroslav Krleža, Gašpar Alapić in “General i njegov lakrdijaš” by Marijan Matković and other), and apart from plays, Šovo also recited – Ujević, A.B. Šimić and Krleža. He often played at the Dubrovnik Summer Festival (Caesar and Claudius in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” and in “Hamlet”, Don Lope in Calderon’s The Mayor of Zalamea etc.).
The sixties are the years of Fabijan’s private joys. In 1962 he married Maja Blaškov, an employee at the Mladost publishing house, with whom he had two children, future actress Anja (1963) and actor Filip (1966). His best man was his colleague Krešimir Baćo Zidarić. Fabijan Šovagović and his family lived in the centre of Zagreb, in Mesnička 14 Street.
Again as a free lancer, Šovo joins a strolling company “Visiting Theatre” (Teatar u gostima), led by Relja Bašić. During four seasons he played about 700 plays by Kundera, Nash, Mrozek and Kušan. In 1979 he rejoins Drama theatre Gavella and writes a play “Sokol ga nije volio” (Sokol Did Not Love Him), which will have its premiere in the season of 1981/1982 directed by Božidar Violić. Besides the mentioned theatres, Šovagović played in the Zagrebačko kazalište mladih (Zagreb Youth Theatre), Theatre ITD, Croatian National Theatre in Osijek, he played with Histrioni theatre etc....
The first film he started acting in was “Svoga tela gospodar” by Fedor Hanžeković, in 1957. In his career he played in some seventy films. He made the greatest number of films with Vatroslav Mimica, Antun Vrdoljak, Krsto Papić and Zoran Tadić. The most prominent roles in his prolific work are: watch black marketer in "H8" (N. Tanhofer,1958), Joža Sveti in “Breza” (aka The Birch Tree by A. Babaja, 1967), unhappy bridegroom in “Lisice” (aka Handcuffs by K. Papić, 1970), disillusioned intellectual alcoholic in “Novinar” (aka Journalist by F. Hadžić, 1979), a teacher in province in “Predstava Hamleta u Mrduši Donjoj” (aka Acting Hamlet in the Village of Mrduša Donja by K. Papić, 1974). His memorable roles are also Matija Gubec in “Seljačka buna” (aka Peasants’ Revolt by V. Mimica, 1979), then the role of a meticulous statistician in “Ritam zločina” (Z. Tadić, 1981), and a man of humble origins versus middle class in “Ambasador” (F. Hadžić, 1984). He played in the western called “Protuva” (aka Scalawag by Z. Čalić, 1973) together with a famous American actor Kirk Douglas. In the film “San o ruži“ (aka Dreaming the Rose by Z. Tadić) a great father played with his daughter Anja. They played together also in 1980 in Histrioni theatre, in Shakespeare’s The Tempest, the roles of father and daughter, Prospero and Miranda.
Šovagović also played memorable roles in TV series. He played Mile Vrbica, a gendarme fond of one’s cup in “Kuda idu divlje svinje” by Štivičić-Hetrich. Anthological role is also the role of dida Kikaš from Raos’ “Prosjaci i sinovi” (directed by Antun Vrdoljak), a TV Series which was forbidden in the period of the “Croatian Spring”. He played Jožica Kičmanović aka Zgubidan, father of Ivica Kičmanović in constant fight with the neighbour in “U registraturi”. Besides these, other worth-mentioning TV Series are Sam čovjek, Punom parom, Velo misto, Jelenko etc.
A special place in his biography belongs to the adaptation of Šovagović’s play “Sokol ga nije volio” (Sokol Did Not Love Him) into film that happened in 1987 and 1988 in his home country, a village Selci near Bizovac. A special quality of a film “Sokol” is the first public mention of the events from 1945, i.e. of the Way of the Cross of Croats at Bleiburg. In the direction of Branko Schmidt, side by side Fabijan his son Filip made his film début, and the extras were his brother, cousins and friends from Ladimirevci. The film was seen by more than thirty thousand people, which is an excellent number for the Croatian cinematography.
In the spring of 1990 Fabijan had his first stroke in his summer house in Supetar at the island of Brač. Although from that time on the malignant disease became an integral part of his life, he managed to play supporting roles in “Čaruga” (aka Charuga) by Rajko Grlić and in “Đuka Begović” (aka Evil Blood) by Branko Schmidt. In 1994 he played his last major film role in Schmidt’s “Vukovar se vraća kući” (aka Vukovar: The Way Home). He bid farewell to theatre on the boards of his parent theatre Gavella in 1995 where he played Gulisavi Hrvat in “Dundo Maroje” written by Marin Držić. Though seriously ill, in 1999 he made an appearance in “Zamrznuti kadar”, a film by Branko Ištvančić.
He died on the first day of the 21st century, on 1 January 2001, and was buried on his 69th birthday, on 4 January at the Zagreb cemetery Mirogoj. Fate placed too soon between the eternity and Bolle’s arcades. A man-actor. Fabijan Šovagović was his name.