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 Zinaida Reich


Born:   July 3, 1894
Deceased:   July 15, 1939

Russian actress, wife of Sergey Yesenin and Vsevolod Meyerhold

      

Zinaida Nikolaevna Reich was born on July 3 (June 21), 1894 into the family of Nicholas Reich and noblewoman Anna Viktorova in the Blizhnie Melnitsy settlement near Odessa. Her father, a Russified German, was a social democrat, and imparted his views to his daughter. After a while the family moved to Bendery.  Zinaida studied at a grammar school, but after the 8th grade was expelled for political reasons due to the girl’s views cultivated by her father. 
 
She entered Higher Courses in Kiev, and from 1913 was a member of the Social Revolutionary party. Soon Zinaida moved to Petrograd (St. Petersburg) and entered the History and Literature Faculty of the Rayevsky Higher Courses, where she studied foreign languages and took sculpture classes. Upon graduation she worked as a secretary-typist in the editorial board of a socialist revolutionary newspaper. This is where she met Sergey Yesenin – he had his poems published in this newspaper. 
 
On August 11, 1917 Zinaida Reich and Sergey Yesenin got married. She gave birth to their daughter Tatyana in 1918 and son Konstantin in 1920. Those were turbulent years and the spouses seldom happened to be together. The family life went wrong. In autumn 1921 they got officially divorced.
 
From March, 1921 Zinaida Reich taught the history of theater and costumes at drama courses in Oryol. In autumn 1921 she became a student of the Higher Theatrical School in Moscow, where she studied at the Directors’ Department together with S. M. Eisenstein and S. I. Yutkevich. The school was headed by Vsevolod Meyerhold, who became the husband of Zinaida Reich and took care of her children Tatyana and Konstantin with love of a real father. 
 
Zinaida Reich made her debut as an actress on stage of the Meyerhold Theatre on January 19, 1924. She performed the role of Aksyusha in the play Forest by A. Ostrovsky. Soon she became one of the most famous Moscow actresses, having played over a dozen roles at the Meyerhold Theater. According to memoirs of her contemporaries, Zinaida was a broadbrow and an affable person. She tried to help others in an unostentatious and selfless way, encourage those who had hard times and inspire hope. 
 
In 1938 the Meyerhold Theatre was closed by authorities and Vsevolod Meyerhold was soon arrested. 
 
A few days after his arrest, on the night of July 15, 1939 Zinaida Reich was brutally killed in her apartment in the Bryusov Lane in Moscow. The attackers stabbed her seventeen times and disappeared. The actress died on the way to hospital. The assassination still remains undetected.
 
Very few people dared to come to her funeral: just the family members and some strangers. Zinaida Reich was buried at the Vagankovo Cemetery.
 


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