Vera Kholodnaya – Russian silent cinema star
The Russian silent movie queen Vera Kholodnaya lived a short life, only 25 years.
Vera was born on August 30, 1893 in Poltava, Russian Empire. The family of school teacher Vasily Levchenko moved to Moscow in 1895, when Verochka was two years old. Vera was the eldest child in the family. The girl loved to dance, and persuaded her mother to send her to the Bolshoi Theatre ballet school. She could become a prima ballerina, but her grandmother considered that ballet was an unacceptable occupation for the girl from respectable family. Vera had to go back to school.
15-year-old girl watched the play “Francesca da Rimini” by Gabriele D’Annunzio. Vera was impressed by Vera Komissarzhevskaya,Empress of the Russian Drama Theater.
After school Verochka Levchenko met handsome young lawyer Vladimir Kholodny. Vera saw in him her faithful knight, who, unlike her relatives, was able to help her not just to live, but soar above life. Their wedding took place in 1910. Every evening Vera and her husband went to the theater and cinema. The invention of the Lumiere brothers had just begun gaining popularity in the country. Just in 1910 appeared the film “The Abyss” with Asta Nielsen. Vera was fascinated by the Danish actress. In 1912, Kholodnaya gave birth to daughter Eugenia. A year later, Vladimir persuaded his wife to adopt girl Nona.
One day Kholodnaya came to film director Gardin and asked for the role and he couldn’t refuse. As a result, Gardin handed her a letter to the director Yevgeni Bauer, who worked in Khanzhonkov and K °. Khanzhonkov was the most prosperous film manufacturer in Russia.
After the first two films by Yevgeni Bauer – “Song of Triumphant Love” and “Sky Flame” (1915) – Vera Kholodnaya hypnotized the whole Russia.
Once Vera said to her sister, “You know, I have a feeling that I do not exist. It’s not me on the screen. This is just my shadow.”
For four years, Kholodnaya starred in almost eight dozen films!
In the summer of 1915, Vera learned that Lieutenant Kholodny was seriously wounded near Warsaw. She went to the front, where spent a month together with her husband.
Meanwhile, movies with her participation brought huge profits. Vera was offered to go to Europe, but the actress refused.
She had a lot of fans, even Stanislavsky invited her to join his theater troupe. Men adored her, but Vera was never physically unfaithful to her husband. The “Slave of love” she was only on the screen.
Once an unknown soldier brought her a front letter from her husband. Then he began to visit Vera every day. He just was sitting and staring at her. The soldier was Alexander Vertinsky. He fell in love and dedicated songs to her.
In the summer of 1918 Vera together with film director Chardynin traveled to south to complete the shooting of the films “Princess Tarakanova” and “Gypsy Aza”.
And suddenly on February 17, 1919 her husband received the news – Vera Kholodnaya died. She died from the flu pandemic, because there was no medication. Doctors and relatives who were near her told that even dying Vera played death scene. Vera Kholodnaya went into that realm of shadows, from which she could never return. Her face was completely calm.
A director with whom Kholodnaya had worked for several years filmed her large funeral. Ironically, this seems to be her best known film today.
Her life was dramatized in Nikita Mikhalkov’smovie Slave of Love (1975). A documentary on her life was filmed in 1992.