Yevgeny Pavlovich Leonov was born on September 2, 1926 into an ordinary average-income family in Moscow. His father worked as an engineer at an aircraft factory, and his mother was a housewife. In 1947 Yevgeny graduated from the Moscow Drama Studio. He played on stage of the K.S.Stanislavsky Moscow Drama Theater and Vl. Mayakovsky Theater, and in 1972 joined the Lenkom Theatre (Moscow Theater of Lenin Komsomol).
Evgeny Leonov gained popularity after the release of the movie Striped Trip in 1961. The bright and soft, comedy character actor of great charm, Leonov was notable for spontaneity and ingenuous openness, and was gifted with original drama talent.
Yevgeny Leonov was very much into filming, especially with the outstanding comedy film director Georgiy Daneliya. Leonov appeared on screen with hardly any make-up, granting to his characters his natural outlook: small in stature, with a chubby round-shouldered figure, a round face with a big nose and full lips, and a considerable bald spot on his head.
The hoarse low-keyed voice of Leonov is instantly recognizable. His work on scoring animation films (first of all his brilliant off-screen role of Winnie-the-Pooh in the series of 1969-1972) still enjoys special love of many generations of viewers. His creative heritage comprises 67 movies, 9 animation films, and a number of stage plays.
Yevgeny Leonov died of a heart arrest on January 29, 1994. On that fatal evening the play Prayer for the Dead starring Leonov was supposed to take place in the Lenkom Theatre. When the audience was announced to that the play would not be given because of the actor’s death, none of them returned their tickets. Candles were brought from the nearest church and the people stood holding them all evening by the theater. Thousands of people came to the funeral of the great actor.