Is your surname Rautavaara?

Research the Rautavaara family

Share your family tree and photos with the people you know and love

  • Build your family tree online
  • Share photos and videos
  • Smart Matching™ technology
  • Free!

Kaj Tapio Rautavaara

Swedish: Rautavaara
Birthplace: Pirkkala, Finland
Death: September 25, 1979 (64)
Helsinki, Finland
Place of Burial: Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
Immediate Family:

Son of Henrik Ferdinand Johansson Kerttula and Hilda Maria Rautavaara
Husband of Saima Elisabeth Rautavaara
Father of Private; Private and Private

Occupation: Laulaja, huippu-urheilija, näyttelijä
Managed by: Raija Kunnas
Last Updated:
view all

Immediate Family

About Tapio Rautavaara

Kaj Tapio Rautavaara was a Finnish athlete, singer (bass-baritone) and film actor.

Early years

Tapio Rautavaara was born in the municipality of Pirkkala (now Nokia), a suburb of Tampere. Just three weeks later, his mother moved to the Helsinki suburb of Oulunkylä. Then back to Tampere, then back to Oulunkylä where he lived for the rest of his life.

In the late 1920s, Rautavaara joined the local working-class sports club Oulunkylän Tähti (″Oulunkylä Star″) for practicing athletics. Rautavaara used to have conflicts with his conservative teachers due to his working-class background. Rautavaara earned pocket money by selling socialist papers for local workers of the Finlayson textile factory.

War time

By the outbreak of the Finnish Winter War in 1939, he had worked as a newspaper boy, roadworker, lumberjack and as a storeman at a co-operative mill. His national military service was with the Finnish Navy in the mid 1930s.

When the Winter War broke out the Navy was not very active in the war and Rautavaara was allowed to continue working at the Osuustukkukauppa (OTK) mill. However, when the Continuation War broke out he was called to the army and he was ordered to be the first year of the war in the front line. In the summer of 1942, Rautavaara was transferred to the war entertainment troops and worked for two years as a radio journalist on the frontier based Aunus Radio. During this time he became known to the troops. In the summer of 1944 the Finns had to pull out from East Karelia and Rautavaara’s radio career ended.

Sports career

Rautavaara was a talented javelin thrower and archer. In 1937, he represented the Finnish Workers' Sports Federation at the Workers' Olympiads in Antwerp, finishing second in the javelin throw after his countrymen Erkki Autonen. After the World War II, Rautavaara won a European bronze medal in 1946, an Olympic gold medal in 1948, and five national titles in 1944–45, and 1947–49. He placed fifth at the 1950 European Championships. In archery Rautavaara won a team gold medal at the 1958 World Championships and a national title in 1955.

Music and acting career

After the war Rautavaara met Reino Helismaa, who composed and made the lyrics to Reissumies ja kissa (The Traveler and the Cat), which became Rautavaara’s first hit. Composer Toivo Kärki joined this team, which produced over the next ten years many popular songs. In addition, Rautavaara composed and wrote the lyrics for many of his records. Rautavaara received gold records for the songs Isoisän olkihattu (Grandpa's Strawhat), Vain merimies voi tietää (Only a Sailor Could Know) and Häävalssi (The Wedding Waltz). The first song was written and composed by Rautavaara, the second one was composed by him and the lyrics were written by Heikki Saari.

Rautavaara, Helismaa and Esa Pakarinen toured Finland together at the end of the 1940s and the beginning of the 1950s. The touring stopped due to personal problems, but Rautavaara continued to record songs with Helismaa's lyrics until Helismaa's death in 1965. By the time of his death in 1979 Rautavaara had recorded about 300 songs.

Rautavaara became one of the most beloved singers in Finland. Some of his famous songs include Isoisän olkihattu (Grandfather’s Straw Hat), Reppu ja reissumies (The Backpack and the Traveler), Korttipakka (The Deck of Cards), Lapin jenkka (The Lappland Schottische), Juokse sinä humma (Run, Horse, Run), Kulkuri ja joutsen (The Tramp and the Swan), Tuopin jäljet (Marks of the Tankard), Sininen uni (Blue Dream) and Anttilan keväthuumaus (Anttila’s Spring Fever).

Rautavaara was cast as the protagonist in numerous Finnish films, and was also supposedly a candidate for the part of Tarzan after Johnny Weissmuller had quit his career.

Later years

The peak of Rautavaara’s popularity was in the 1950s, stretching into the early years of the 1960s. After that, his music was left in the shadow of rautalanka and tango music and the popularity of the television. He continued to perform regularly, however, right up until his death, even though his gigs in the 1970s were for smaller audiences, such as in department stores and topping out ceremonies.

Death and tributes

On 25 September 1979 Tapio Rautavaara slipped and fell at the Tikkurila Swimming Center in Vantaa and hit his head on the floor. He was taken to a nearby health center, where his injuries were not taken seriously, as staff believed him to be drunk. His head was bandaged and he was sent home. The next night, he died as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage at his home in Oulunkylä. He was buried in Malmi, Helsinki.

A memorial by Veikko Myller entitled (Kulkurin uni A Vagabond’s Dream) to the memory of Rautavaara is located in the market square in central Oulunkylä, the district of Helsinki, where Rautavaara lived most of his life

Peter von Bagh created a TV documentary on Rautavaara entitled Tapsa at the time of Rautavaara's death in 1979. Timo Koivusalo used Rautavaara's and Helismaa's tours as the basis for his film Kulkuri ja joutsen in 1999. In spring 2007 the Nokia Workers’ theatre presented a play entitled Sininen uni (The Blue Dream), which was based on his life. Ville Valo, the frontman of the Finnish rock band HIM, regards Rautavaara as his greatest idol in Finnish music.

About Tapio Rautavaara (suomi)

Kaj Tapio Rautavaara oli suomalainen laulaja, keihäänheiton olympiavoittaja, jousiampuja ja elokuvanäyttelijä.

Tapio Rautavaaran isästä on epäselvyyttä, mutta wikipediassa on mainittu isän olleen Heikki Kerttula

Rautavaara on yksi Suomen pidetyimmistä laulajista, ja häntä on kuvailtu laulelman mestariksi. Rautavaaran ääniala oli bassobaritoni. Hänen lauluäänensä oli väriltään tumma ja melankolinen. Tunnettuja Rautavaaran laulamia kappaleita ovat muun muassa ”Reppu ja reissumies”, ”Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen”, ”Sininen uni” ja ”Yölinjalla”, ja hän teki erityisesti monet Reino Helismaan sanoittamat ja Toivo Kärjen säveltämät kappaleet tunnetuiksi.

Rautavaara voitti keihäänheitossa kultamitalin Lontoon olympialaisissa vuonna 1948 ja pronssia Oslon EM-kisoissa 1946. Suomen mestaruuden hän voitti viisi kertaa. Jousiammunnassa Rautavaara voitti maailmanmestaruuden joukkuekilpailussa 1958. Lisäksi hän voitti Suomen mestaruuden henkilökohtaisessa kilpailussa 1955 ja joukkuekilpailussa 1956.

Rautavaara esiintyi vuosina 1945–1970 yhteensä 22 elokuvassa. Rautavaaran työ elokuvanäyttelijänä on jäänyt laulajan uran varjoon, vaikka hänen elokuvansa olivatkin aikanaan suosittuja.

Tapio Rautavaaran muistomerkki Kulkurin uni Helsingin Oulunkylässä: / sukupuu 7.12.2018

view all

Tapio Rautavaara's Timeline

March 8, 1915
Pirkkala, Finland
September 25, 1979
Age 64
Helsinki, Finland
September 25, 1979
Age 64
Malmin Hautausmaa, Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland