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 Alexei Batalov

Born:   20 November 1928
Deceased:   15 June 2017

Russian actor


Alexei Batalov is the actor, whom the time itself needed and raised him to the summit of glory rivaled by few in the national cinema art. His “racy of the soil” charm combined with genuine inborn intelligence has brought back to the national cinema that unique tradition, which makes the world presume some special nature and sophisticated spiritual constitution of the Russians.

Alexei Vladimirovich Batalov was born on November 20, 1928 into the family of actors in Vladimir town. His father, Vladimir Batalov and his mother, Nina Olshanskaya, were actors of the famous MXAT (Moscow Art Academic Theatre).

“I was always supported by the example of non-compromising people that surrounded me. As a rule, they were all poor from the material point of view, but their spiritual wealth made up for it. Anna Akhmatova, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Boris Pasternak, Joseph Brodsky – I knew those people, I saw their life”, Alexei Batalov recalls.

In July 1941 Alexei with his mother was evacuated to the city of Bugulma in Tatarstan. There Nina Olshanskaya soon founded her own theatre, where her 14-year old son worked as a stagehand and later was entrusted some small roles. Aleksey Batalov After the war the family returned to Moscow where Alexei upon finishing school entered the School-Studio attached to MXAT.

By the time of graduation Batalov was already married to Konstantin Rotov’s daughter, whom Alexei had known since childhood. They named their daughter Nadezhda.

From 1950 to 1953 the actor was serving the army in the Soviet Army Theatre in Moscow. Upon returning to the “civvy street” Alexei got a splendid present from Anna Akhmatova: she gave him money to dress up from top to toe. However he used the gift in a different way, buying a car instead, and thus fulfilling his longstanding dream.

Aleksey Batalov The same year saw another dream of his come true: Batalov was admitted to the troupe of MXAT. At the same time he was invited to star as the worker Alexei Zhurbin in the feature film Bolshaya semya (A Big Family) (1954).

Experiencing powerful love drama as an actor in the film, Alexei did not avoid the same in real life. In 1954 when playing in Iosif Kheifits’ film Delo Rumyantseva (The Rumyantsev Case) (1955) he fell in love with the Gypsy dancer Gitana Leontenko, whom he married in the early 1960s. Unfortunately their daughter Maria suffered from an incurable disease…

Aleksey Batalov In 1957 the legendary drama Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes Are Flying) (1957) by Mikhail Kalatozov was released. Though the role of Alexei Batalov (Boris Borozdin) was very short in screen time, it became one of the best roles in the actor’s biography. It was to a great extent his merit that the film became the only Soviet full-length feature awarded with the Golden Palm at Cannes in 1958.

In the late 1950s Alexei Batalov mainly worked with his favourite film director Iosif Kheifits, which resulted in two remarkable films: Dorogoy moy chelovek (My Dear Fellow!) (1958) and Dama s sobachkoy (The Lady with the Little Dog) (1960). In 1958 the already famous actor directed is first independent film Shinel (The Overcoat) (1959) after Nikolai Gogol.

Aleksey Batalov Mikhail Romm’s film 9 dney odnogo goda (Nine Days in One Year) (1962) starring Alexei Batalov and telling about life of Soviet nuclear physicists was declared the best film of the year according to the readers’ poll of the magazine Sovetsky Ecran (Soviet Screen), while Batalov was called the Soviet Union’s best actor of the year.

In 1965 Batalov directed a screen version of Yuri Olesha’s children’s fairy tale Tri tolstyaka (Three Fat Men) (1966) that was a great success with the public. The film director played one of the leads, the role of Tibul, which demanded hard work: in one episode, for instance, the character walked on a rope stretched between roofs of two houses. To perform the acrobatic feat himself the actor had to train for a year and two months!

In 1979 Alexei Batalov starred as Gosha in Vladimir Menshov’s film Moskva slezam ne verit (Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears), which cast him into the vortex of viewers’ love again. The glory of the film stepped far over the borders of the Soviet Union: in 1980 it was honoured with the Oscar award. “There were tenacious rumours in Moscow, that it was a provocation. Aleksey Batalov They could not believe that Americans would give Oscar not to a Dostoyevsky’s or Pasternak’s screen version, but to a classical Soviet film,” – the actor recollects.

On the wave of that film’s success Batalov could make a new spurt in his acting career, since the offers rained down on him. However, he deliberately did not use the chance. He made the only exception for the film director Dmitri Svetozarov and took on the role of a design office director in the film Skorost (Speed) (1983). The film tells about road racers, and out hero has always been an enthusiastic driver.

Being overparticular about selecting roles Alexei Batalov has acted in 35 films only. At present he goes on working on radio, and rarely filming.

He is the dean of VGIK (All-Russian State Institute of Cinema) where he teaches, carrying outstanding authority with the students. The prominent actor is also the author of two books: “Sudba i remeslo” (Destiny and Profession) and “Dialogi v antracte” (Dialogues During the Interval).



    First photo by Vladimir Vyatkin, taken from
    Other photos taken from

Tags: Russian actors Russian cinema Alexei Batalov   

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