Natalia Andreychenko, Russian Mary Poppins
Natalia Andreychenko was a popular Soviet actress of the 1970s and 1980s. She is known as Russian Mary Poppins.
Natalia was born on May 3, 1956 in Moscow. Her father worked in an aircraft factory, and her mother at the Ministry of Education. At the age of five Natasha first saw the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” and was completely fascinated. At home, she tried to dance all parties and since then imagined herself a ballerina. 8-year-old girl staged the ballet at the school, becoming a director and choreographer. She also was fond of music and parents bought her a piano. Natasha’s another passion in those years was swimming. However, she wasn’t going to become a professional athlete. She decided to be an actress.
In 1973 Andreychenko entered All-Russian State University of Cinematography. While studying, she made her debut in the film “From dusk to dawn” (1975).
She became known after the role of Siberian Nastya Solomina in “Sibiriada” (1978), directed by Andrei Konchalovsky. It was one of her best roles. Over the next five years Andreychenko actively starred in the average Soviet films.
In 1983 began a new period in her career. She starred in two most popular films – “Wartime Romance” by Peter Todorovski and “Mary Poppins, Goodbye” by Leonid Kvinikhidze. A modern fairy tale about good sorceress – Mary Poppins was filmed in the best traditions of Soviet musical. Andreychenko played a major role and demonstrated all her choreographic and musical skills. The role of Luba Antipova in the film “Wartime Romance” remains the pinnacle of her acting career. She brilliantly played a woman who went through the horrors of war, loneliness and was able to achieve simple human happiness.
In 1984, at the International Festival in Valladolid, Spain, Andreychenko won the prize for Best Actress.
During the mid-eighties (1985-1988) the actress played main roles in the musical film “Maritza” by Alexander Belinsky and in melodrama “Forgive Me” by Ernest Yasan.
Roman with Maximilian Schell
Andreychenko’s first husband was a composer Maxim Dunaevsky. They have a son Mitya.
In 1984, the famous film director Maximilian Schell, arrived to Moscow to make a film about Peter the Great. Natalia was approved for the role of Evdokia Lopukhina.
Andreychenko and Schell’s love story was touching and romantic. After one of the shooting days, he invited Natalia to have dinner together.
“Can you imagine, I didn’t speak English and he – Russian. He had to draw his feelings on the restaurant napkin: moon, heart and the bridge, where we had a first date”.
Then there was a long separation. Natalia was demanded to part with Schell. It was impossible for a Russian woman to meet foreigners. But then began perestroika and Andreychenko divorced Dunayevsky. On June 11, 1986, she married Shell and became his first wife.
Before leaving for the United States –Natalia played the role of Katerina Ismailova in the film “Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk” (1989) directed by Roman Balayan, where her partner was handsome Alexander Abdulov. She was pregnant from Shell and the shooting continued until the eighth month of pregnancy. Her daughter Anastasia was born in 1989.
Shell and Natalia lived together for almost 16 years, the first five of which Natalia spent in Moscow, then moved to America. But there she wasn’t as successful as in Russia. She played the role of Princess Maria Nizamova in the TV series “Dr. Quinn – female doctor”.
In 1993, she starred in the Italian (!) film by Sergei Bondarchuk “The Quiet Don” as Daria. In 1994 Andreychenko starred in several Hollywood films – “Banshee”, Schell’s film “Candle in the Dark”, as well as “Little Odessa”, which received “Silver Lion” award at the Venice Festival.
Return to Russia
She didn’t become a leading actress in the United States and returned to Russia. The spouses decided to live separately. The German newspaper “Bild” immediately announced that the couple intended to dissolve the marriage. However, when Shell had pancreatic attack, Natalia was with him in the hospital. But then she returned to Russia.
In 2000 Andreychenko starred in “Formula of Happiness” and “Give me the moonlight”. In 2002 she played as Natascha Schell in the film Meine Schwester Maria.
In 2005 Andreychenko and Shell divorced. Maximillian Shell died on February 1, 2014 in Austria.