Lars Ekborg, Bunta Ihop Dom [Pack them Up?]

special thanks to "Fish" for translations

[Liner Notes]

One October day in 1969, the Swedish people lost something of worth.

The actor and artist Lars Ekborg.

One of our country's most appreciated actors died - only 43 years old.

It's often the gifted who leave us the earliest.

We have missed Lars Ekborg since 1969.

Now we can meet and remember him on CD.

When the Sonet record company asked me to write about Lars Ekborg for this three CD edition, I was highly doubtful.

To tell about the guy before the listeners and do sufficient justice to hearing his richly shaded and nuanced presentation is no easy task.

Lars Ekborg belonged to the people who were deep in their feelings. A person who one thinks one belongs with. He was a plain regular guy with qualities which sometimes were surprising - yes, even shocking.

But he was also someone you could make yourself comfortable with and tell everything between heaven and earth. From George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's vision of hell, through Beppe Wolger's philosophy of hops, to Albert Engström's sketches of longshoremen.

Pär Rådström - also one of those who left us so early - once said this of Lars Ekborg:

"He had a really deep seriousness that he could use like a trampoline. He flipped humor-somersaults in a way like no one else on the Swedish stage. Through whispering a few words, he could force his audience into a self examination which almost smashed their souls. In his stage figures were serious words, in a distorting mirror of reality..."

This is also the Lars Ekborg we meet here on three CDs.

Sometimes the all-around artist is superior to the script. Many of the scripts are dated, whereas Lars Ekborg is timeless. But that is the right and proper thing.

That we now commit Lars Ekborg to memory again is a necessity. We will meet him in a row of classics: " Bunta ihop dom" [Pack Them Up?] from the revue "Klotter" [Scribble], TV success "Skattkammarön" [The Treasure Island], Knäppupp's classical modern satire "Eländet" [The Misery], and we will meet "Lars Ekborg in Tom Lehrers värld" [Lars Ekborg in Tom Lehrer's World].

I see that like an important statement, Lars Ekborg's revue numbers go out again. We haven't had very many stars of his caliber.

I don't believe that it was a coincidence that Lars Ekborg was enamored of Tom Lehrer, Victor Borge and Lenny Bruce. The limited speaking-buddies like him - similar to Povel Ramel and Beppe Wolgers - were forced to put an end to an international career.

It burned in Lars Ekborg's soul but at the same time he said:

"They have a big international following - but on the other hand they will never have the chance to wake up in the morning in a Swedish summer archipelago. Or take a real Swedish bow when one does something people approve of."

How did Lars-Åke Rupert Ekborg become what he became?


Well, that is a story worth telling.

Lars-Åke (as he was always called by friends) Rupert Ekborg was born on Swedish Flag Day, 1926, in Uppsala. After a while he landed in Västerås. He was already set for a stage career, for the midwife in Uppsala said of baby Ekborg:

"If he doesn't become an opera singer, he won't become anything."

But when Lars Ekborg came to Västerås, his parents thought he should enter an "honorable" profession. So Lars went to a business preparatory school. But in the evenings the boy made off down the road to the Stage Club, which was in those days a precursor of the Independent Protheater. Lars Ekborg himself helped to shape it.

Papa Ekborg wasn't happy about the evening escapades. He was a conductor and had worked with Ernst Rolf as well as Karl Gerhard. And Lars' maternal grandmother had a passion for the theater and had permanent seats at Folkets Park. So the theater dust could be found in the air.

Lars Ekborg served his year as a clerk at ASEA in Västerås after the end of school.

But the evenings led him, as mentioned, to the theater. He was only seventeen when he tried to answer his calling. [Ed. Note: Asea Brown Boveri was a Swedish company that built power plants, trains, and other things]

Lars Ekborg got himself a mustache, a thin one, in order to seem over 19 and diabolical.

But it failed. He had too-nice eyes and looked too much like a teenager. Something that he had to grow out of.

Now it was fortunate that the legendary Calle Flygare, head of a Stockholm theater school, came to Västerås and saw the amateur actor Ekborg. And persuaded the talented to travel down to the capital city.

Neither ASEA nor Murbruks Corporation in Västerås grieved. They had also discovered that young Mr. Ekborg was a better actor than clerk.

But the capital township of Stockholm - or the capital city as it was then called - had no laughs to spare for Lars- Åke Rupert Ekborg. Then 20 years old and so un-prosperous that he subsisted on one licorice stick a day.

He supported himself by going to an independent theater and leading a horse across the stage for five kronor an evening - the horse got 7:50. And Lars still had to sweep up the horse droppings afterward. During the day Lars pasted up posters. One may as well learn the theater from the ground up or not at all.

Lars Ekborg tried to get into the Dramatic School. He failed.

He tried to play all the roles in Gorky's "Night Hotel" at one time, and the audition panel listened and burst out laughing. But the obstacles wound him up, and it is possible that it was here that Lars Ekborg discovered his gift for comedy.

The next year (1948) he tried again. And was accepted.

The group he was in with was not bad - among them Ingrid Thulin, Yvonne Lombard, Margaretha Krook, Max von Sydow and Jan-Olov Strandberg.

And in the group he learned the truth that he lived with ever since:

"This playing the ape and being affected, dressing up and displaying the arts, is and will remain the essential statement for every actor."

1949 were the days of playing small roles for the former clerk Ekborg. "Lycko-Pers resa" [Lucky Peter's Journey], "David Copperfield", and "Älskar, älskar inte" [Love Me, Love Me Not] were some of his jobs.

The reviewers didn't name his name. And to top it all off, he was forced to take extra work folding sacks at the post office to support himself.

But Lars Ekborg had drive. And through the films and revues he became a name - a name which Swedish television then took in hand.

Lars Ekborg played the credible guy in "The Summer with Monica" against Harriet Anderson and became a film idol.

At the same time he played great roles at the Drama. They thought there were other fields that were more attractive. Revues for example.

So there was Kar de Mumma at the Folk, Knäppupp with Povel Ramel and "Klotter" which was a free-standing work backed by Beppe Wolgers and Co.

These are the sorts of things you can listen to on this three-CD set.

This is accordingly a frightfully capable actor we're listening to. And what one should remember is his playing on the times he played against a really small audience.

Not to the big audience out in "civilized society"!

And on the whole the monologue "Bunta ihop dom" was absolutely not trendy.

Today- a decade or more afterward - we can take that with a grain of salt.

And over the whole thing shines, not Mother Sun - but Lars Ekborg.

Povel Ramel has described Lars Ekborg's stage technique in a way - "Poker med Joakim" found in this album has something like what Pavel called "the candy number".

"This is a proof of Lars Ekborg's masterly capacity to lift a text and go sharpen up every point. Intimately leaning over a child's bed he carries out monologues in a low tone without a syllable getting lost."

"Ekborg could, moreover, simply whisper a number to success. We see an example of this in "Nya ryck i snöret" ["New tug to the laces"], where he appears as a secretive gossip spreader, a cheeky supplier of saccharine intimacies to weeklies, a disagreeable person who even knows the exact inner measurement of Lasse Lönndahl's bed."

This may just be what makes Lars Ekborg's art so great - that he worked with small means but nevertheless reached the audience. A whisper, a single twitch of an eyebrow could suffice.

For the general audience are the widely distributed TV programs like "Estrad", "Partaj" and other types of lighter entertainment that make one remember the name of Lars Ekborg.

But faithful radio listeners also remember Lars Ekborg as the reader who did "Dagens Dikt" ["Today's Poetry"] with an important piece of our reality.

Lars Ekborg was brave enough to be himself, both as an actor and as a person. He had his fixed opinions and understood that the theater must perpetually be renewed to be able to survive. He also understood entertainment's great significance as a stress reliever in our ever more stressed world.

And it is as stress relief that one should experience the entertainer Lars Ekborg on these three CDs.

But also remember what a fine stage artist and entertainer he was. And he was - and is - a bit of our Swedish theater culture.

Bengt Melin


One time, Marianne Höök wrote of Lars Ekborg: "He has a great face."

"He has a great face."

One should think about these words. What does that mean, exactly? Not only a face that is aesthetically esteemed. But also a great face. Nowadays, the face that the world terms the soul's mirror: a serviceable, honest, open, unaffected upright face. A face that saw itself as it was before the world. In work and ambition, in desire and knowledge, in aspiration and above all in friendliness, in goodness or tenderness, in wisdom and judgement, much the same in humor and open, great laughter, in sharpsightedness without malice.

It is difficult to clarify the significance of Marianne Höök's single phrase "a great face". But it covers Lars Ekborg.

He had a great face.

He was a great artist.

"Great" is a difficult word, which has suffered from inflation, from carelessness, used laxly and slangily, finally and nonsensically.

But the word "great" can recover its own meaninful significance if one today uses it when one speaks of Lars Ekborg. Suddenly one knows what the word "great" stands for.

Lars Ekborg had a great face.

If we don't know what word "great" represents, we will know when we listen to these performances.

They are great.

Therefore Lars Ekborg was great.

Beppe Wolgers


[Song titles]

[Disk 3 is Tom Lehrer songs, with English titles listed]

Disk 1

Disk 2

1. Pack Them Up (?)

1. The Treasure Island

2. Grain Sausage

2. The Profile

3. Evening at Home

3. A Word to the Young

4. Buy a Tulip

4. The Thumb

5. He Who Climbs Towards the Heights (The Window Washer)

5. Some Great Misery

6. A Shady Character

6. Success

7. Ad-Radio Southwest

7. Amateur Surgery

8. Married to a Professional Woman

8. Poker with Joakim

9. So Advances the Old Guard

9. Whispered Gossip

10. Prestige

10. Encore [literally Curtain Persuasion]

11. In Love in the Stockholm Traffic


12. Two Old Spaniards