Evgeny Leonov, Soviet-Russian actor
Evgeny Leonov was a famous Soviet-Russian actor, best known for leading roles in comedies, People’s Artist of the USSR (1978), laureate of the State Prize of the USSR (1976) and the State Prize of the Russian Federation (1992). He is one of Russia’s best-loved actors. Evgeny also voiced many Soviet cartoon characters, including Vinny Pukh (Winnie the Pooh).
The actor was born on September 2, 1926 in a typical Moscow family – his father was an aviation engineer and his mother was a housewife.
Evgeny dreamed of becoming a war-plane pilot, which was a very common desire of many boys of the World War II period. During the war his school studies were interrupted by the invasion of the Nazi Armies. Evgeny became a metalworker.
One day Leonov decided to become a professional actor. At an entrance exam Evgeny presented monologues from Anton Chekhov and Mikhail Zoschenko. After finishing the prepared monologues Leonov was asked to perform something else. “Something else is even worse”, he replied. His words caused an explosion of laughter. The State Commission saw his great potential, and Leonov became a student of the Moscow State Theatre Studio.
Leonov studied acting at nights and continued his day job as an industrial worker.
His first big work in movies was the role in the film Delo Rumyantseva (1955). Leonov had played in more than 60 films. He was among the leading comedians in Russian cinema of the Soviet era.
He received the State Prize of the USSR twice and got numerous awards for his film roles and for his stage works.
From 1974 – 1994 Leonov was a permanent member of the troupe at the Moscow Lenkom Theatre.
An adaptation of Tevye the Milkman story by Sholom Aleichem was the last role of this great Russian actor.
Leonov was fond of fine art. He developed a passion for collecting Russian landscape paintings and graphics, as well as Russian period furniture and antiques. His home in Moscow looked like a museum of Russian art.
Evgeny was married to Vanda Stoilova, and their son, Andrei Leonov, also became an actor.
Evgeny Leonov died on January 29, 1994 on his way to the Lenkom Theatre. He went there to perform in the play The Prayer For The Dead. Over half a million people turned out in freezing conditions for a procession to a memorial service. He is buried in the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow near other outstanding figures of Russian culture.
1949 – Happy Flight (Machine 22-12)
1963 – The Serf Actress
1964 – Don story
1966 – Tales of Russian forests
1967 – The Snow Queen
1969 – Zigzag of luck
1969 – Tchaikovsky
1970 – Belarusian railway station
1971 – Gentlemen of Fortune
1972 – Big Break
1975 – Circus in the Circus
1977 – Mimino
1978 – Ordinary Miracle
1979 – Holidays in September
1982 – The House That Swift Built
1986 – Kin-Dza-Dza
1988 – Kill the dragon
1993 – Nastya
1993 – American grandfather