BELGRADE – Legendary Serbian and Yugoslav actor Velimir Bata Zivojinovic died in a Belgrade hospital Sunday evening aged 83, Belgrade media reported on Monday.

Zivojinovic, who was the region’s most prolific actor, gained international fame thanks to the leading role in the 1972 Yugoslav partisan film Walter Defends Sarajevo, which became massively popular in China.

Born on June 5, 1933 in the village of Koracica near Belgrade, he studied at the theatre academy in Belgrade after obtaining a secondary degree in acting.

He worked as an actor at the Belgrade Drama Theatre for several years with up to 300 performances a season, but later decided to become a full-time film actor.

He made his silver screen debut in Rados Novakovic’s 1955 film The Song from Kumbara.

In his own words, his first major role was in Veljko Bulajic’s Train Without a Timetable (1957).

He appeared in over 340 films and television series, and will also be remembered as a comedy actor.

His roles include those in Aleksandar Petrovic’s classics Three (1965), I Even Met Happy Gypsies (1967) and The Master and Margaret (1972).

After the introduction of the multi-party system in Serbia, he served several terms as a Socialist Party of Serbia MP and also ran for president in 2002, winning around 120,000 votes.