We have to assume that Per Oscarsson is dead. So far all that anyone knows is that his house burned down on New Year’s Eve. ‘Only’ one unidentified body has been found, but it has not been confirmed if it is Per’s.
The whole world knows Per as Holger Palmgren, one of the few good guys surrounding Lisbeth Salander. Swedes know Per for all sorts of things, and inappropriate though it may seem today, we will always know him as the man who undressed on live television.
It was in the mid 1960s that Per was a guest on the weekly Saturday night show Hylands Hörna, a programme watched by ‘everyone’. So there I was, surrounded by mother and aunt and possibly more adults, when Per proceeded to tell us children how babies are made, all the while taking his clothes off. I think I mainly minded the presence of ‘my’ adults while this happened. And I didn’t much fancy the idea of a totally undressed Per Oscarsson. Hyland spent the entire time gasping for breath and possibly wondering what to do. But no one intervened. Per wore three pairs of underpants. The last pair stayed on. And Sweden could breathe out again.
I felt uneasy ‘around’ Per after that. You should be able to trust adults. But with time I came to realise he was OK, actually. And in more recent years I have actively admired him as an actor, feeling good about seeing him in the Millennium films.
So it is tempting to hope it’s not Per’s remains in that house. But most likely it will turn out to be.
We’ll certainly remember him.