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 Vladimir Etush

Born:   06 May 1922



The range of roles played by Vladimir Etush, one of the most famous Russian comedy actors, is incredibly wide: from fairy tale czars to fakirs and petty tricksters.

Vladimir Abramovich Etush was born in Moscow on May 6, 1922. As a schoolboy yet, he got infected by theater. He would recite Chekhov’s Mask at school evenings and then joined an amateur school drama circle. However, after finishing school Vladimir decided to become not an actor, but a stage director.

Way-out on this profession, he still applied to GITIS. Vladimir recalls: “They requested a written explication from me. I had no idea how to do it and left with my hopes crushed. On my way I came across a book shop and happened to see a brochure titled “Stage Direction of Ostrovsky’s Foster Girl. I bought it and after paraphrasing its content a bit handed my text to the examiner – and got a C”.

After the failure in GITIS Vladimir Etush was helped up by principal stage director of Vakhtangov Theatre Ruben Simonov.


During the war Vladimir Etush quit the theatre and volunteered to the frontline where he found himself in a rifle regiment. Etush fought in mountains of Kabarda and Ossetia, took part in release of Rostov-on-Don and Ukraine. He fought heroically and was awarded with Order of Red Star and medals. He also got the lieutenant’s rank then. In 1944 Etush was badly wounded and demobilized as a disabled war veteran.

In 1945 Vladimir Etush graduated from a drama school and was invited to teach in it. At the same time he started playing on stage of Vakhtangov Moscow Theatre.

The actor started his creative path onstage with distinctive comic episodes. His first noticeable role was that of Servant Launce in Shakespeare’s comedy Two Veronese and still remains one of his favourites.

Vladimir Etush has been in the films only since the age of thirty. He debuted as Seid Ali in the historical feature Admiral Ushakov (1953). In the following thirteen years he did not film often enough. Among the works of those years one can point out his roles of Martini in Ovod (The Gadfly) (1955), of Mamedov in Vremya letnikh otpuskov (Summer Vacation Time) (1960), and Predsedatel (The Chairman) (1964).


Kidnapping Caucassian Style
It was Leonid Gaidai sparkling comedy Kavkazskaya plennitsa, ili Novye priklyucheniya Shurika (Kidnapping Caucassian Style, or Shurik's New Adventures) (1966) that gained genuine love of the people to Vladimir Etush. In this picture he plays the role of a Caucasian philanderer in a very convincing manner.

The success of Kidnapping Caucassian Style brought about demand for Vladimir Etush. Those were as a rule quite distinctive and eccentric comedy types, among them a greedy penniless king in the splendidly humorous and lyrical tale Staraya, staraya skazka (A Very Old Story) (1969) directed by Nadezhda Kosheverova, Pietro in the musical tale Ten (Shadow) (1971) by the same director, emir of Buruhtania in Vilen Azarov’s comedy Neispravimyy lgun (Incorrigible Liar) (1973), Giatsintov in Po ulitsam komod vodili... (Chest of Drawers Was Lead Through the Street...) (1978), and a fakir in the fairy tale Kak Ivanushka-durachok za chudom khodil (How Ivanushka the Fool Travelled in Search of Wonder) (1976). <


Another Vladimir Etush’ popular role still remembered by Russian public is that of swindler Shpak in the splendid comedy iIvan Vasilevich menyaet professiyu (Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Occupation) (1973) by Leonid Gaidai. The actor worked with the genius comedy film director once again in the screen version of 12 stulyev (Twelve Chairs) (1971), in which he brilliantly played Engineer Brunce.

Take alone his inimitable villain Karabas-Barabas in the cult children’s musical tale Priklyucheniya Buratino (The Adventures of Buratino) (1975) by Leonid Nechayev! Together with Vladimir Basov, who played the naughty leech hunter Duremar, they created a merry sparkling duet. It is not by chance that the fairy tale turned to be a hit among children for many years and generations to come.

Recently Vladimir Etush has not often treated his admirers with new works, both as the result of a certain repertoire policy and his being busy as Professor of Acting Department (since 1976) and chancellor of Shchukin Theatre School (since 1987).


Tags: Russian cinema Russian actors Vladimir Etush   

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