Yevgeny Valerianovich Samoylov was born on April 16, 1912 into the family of workers in St. Petersburg. Yevgeny’s parents managed to provide him carefree and happy childhood, and promoted in him love for art, literature, theater, and painting. Yevgeny developed his artistic talent and dreamed of entering the Academy of Arts.
However, in 1928 he entered an actor’s school, just for a team. There he studied under luminaries of Aleksandrinsky and Mariinsky Theaters. After finishing school Yevgeny entered the Leningrad art polytechnic, and then started working at the Leningrad Dramatics Theatre, where he generally played the roles of old men. In 1934 after Meyerhold’s visit to the theater Samoylov was invited to Meyerhold Theater.
Samoylov moved to Moscow, and Meyerhold with his wife Zinaida Reich started sponsoring the young actor. Samoylov was a talented student and drank in learning, watched all performances and studied from the theater’s leading actors: M. M. Tarkhanova, B. V. Schukin, R. N. Simonov, etc. He played the roles of Ernani in Victor Hugo’s Ernani, Chatsky in Woe from Wit by A. Griboyedov, and Pavka Korchagin in the stage play One Life based on N. Ostrovsky’s novel How the Steel was Tempered.
In 1934 the actor made a film debut in the lyrical comedy Chance Encounter by the film director I.A. Savchenko. Then he acted in the films Tom Sawyer directed by L. Frenkel, Shchors by A.P. Dovzhenko, Looking for Joy by G. L. Roshal, Admiral Nakhimov by V. I. Pudovkin, They Fought for the Motherland by S.F. Bondarchuk, and others.
One of his favourite roles was that of Lieutenant Kudryash in the film At Six pm after War (1944) by the legendary film director I.A. Pyryev. After the film release the actor became a national star, and in the following years he was very much into filming till the 1990s.
From 1968 he also played in the Maly Theatre and created some dozens characters in plays by classical and modern playwrights. In 1974 Yevgeny Samoylov became the People’s Artiste of the USSR, won the Stalin Award three times, and lots of medals.
Yevgeny Samoylov lived a happy family life for 62 years with his wife Zinaida Levina, with whom they brought up a son and a daughter, who also became actors.
Yevgeny Valerianovich Samoylov died on February 17, 2006 in Moscow.
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