Almost 200 miles north of Stockholm, in the small city of Hudiksvall, Glada Hudik-teatern, the Happy Hudik Theater, gives people with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to participate in professional theater productions. Numerous plays and musicals, some of them televised, have been staged to showcase the talents and skills of the performers.
Bosse Östlin, who was born with an intellectual impairment, joined the ensemble in 1996 and toured theatrical venues in Sweden and abroad for several years. He played the Tin Man in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Despite his character not having a heart, Östlin was well-known for his huge heart. The actor loved hugs and would ask anyone, anytime, and anywhere for an embrace. In fact, in 2013, he even starred in a Swedish drama-comedy movie How Many Hugs Are There In The World?.
In 2015, Östlin died at the age of 63 of a brain hemorrhage. The following year, at the initiative of Glada Hudik-teatern, a life-sized bronze statue honoring the late performer was erected in Hudiksvall, his hometown. Sculptor Hanna Beling created the bronze, which was financed through auctions and crowdfunding. The statue is one of the first in Sweden to depict a person with an intellectual disability.
To honor Östlin’s love of hugs, the bronze is filled with heating coils and maintains a normal human body temperature all year round, encouraging passersby to stop and give the statue an embrace. Östlin often said, “If I get a hug, I’ll be in a happy mood!” And today the warm likeness is a poignant memorial to the beloved actor’s catchphrase.
Know Before You Go
Freely accessible 24/7 and located by the canal in the very heart of Hudiksvall, approx. 7 minutes by foot from the train and bus station. In Swedish, the statue is known as "Staty Bosse."