Aleksei Smirnov (actor)

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Alexey Smirnov
Алексей Смирнов (Russian)
Born Aleksei Makarovich Smirnov
(1920-02-28)28 February 1920
Danilov, USSR, Russia
Died 7 May 1979(1979-05-07) (aged 59)
Leningrad, Russia
Cause of death
Heart disease
Resting place
Yuzhnoye Cemetery (Санкт-Петербург)
Leningrad, Russia
Nationality Russian
Years active 1959–1977
Awards Order redstar rib.png Orderglory rib.pngOrderglory rib.pngValourRibbon.pngCombatRibbon.pngOrderglory rib.png

Aleksei Makarovich Smirnov (Russian: Алексей Макарович Смирнов; 28 February 1920 in Danilov – 7 May 1979 in Leningrad) was a Russian actor. He performed in more than fifty films between 1959 and 1977.

Early life[edit]

Alexey Smirnov was born on 28 February 1920, in the town of Danilov, Yaroslavskaya Gubernia, to the Smirnovs family: Makar Stepanovich Smirnov and Anna Ivanovna. In the mid 1920s they moved to Lenigrad. After her husband's early decease Anna Ivanovna had to rise her two children on her own - Alexey had a younger brother Arkady. The Smirnovs resided in a communal apartment at 44 Petr Lavrov str. As a pupil Alexey Smirnov began acting in the school amateur theatre. In 1940 he graduated from the Leningrad Music Comedy Theater school and was admitted into the troupe. Smirnov got an only part there - the Black Eagle in the operetta "Rose-Marie" - before the Great Patriotic war began.

The Great Patriotic War[edit]

In 1941 he left for the front as a volunteer. He was a chemical instructor, then squad leader in the 3rd Artillery Battery, 169th Red Banner mortar regiment, 3rd Red Banner and Order of Lenin artillery division of Zhitomir. Alexey Smirnov took part in the battles at the Western, Bryansk, 1st Ukrainian and 2nd Byelorussian Fronts, many times was sent for scouting behind the enemy lines. One of his award papers says he killed three fascists with his assault rifle. In the front line he once acted instead of his commander (which was down) and dispersed about two enemy squads by intensive mortar fire. When breaking through the enemy positions near Onatskovsi village on 4 March 1944 Smirnov and his squad eliminated a mortar battery, a turret machine-gun and about 30 enemy soldiers, which let them regain the village and further take possession of Starokonstantinov town on 9 March. In that action staff-sergeant Smirnov with his squad have destroyed 2 turret machine-guns, a 75-mm cannon and 35 enemy infantrymen. For his courage Alexey Smirnov was nominated to a 1 class Patriotic War Order, but was awarded Red Star Order which is lower rank. On 20 July 1944 height 283.0 was assaulted by 40 German soldiers. Smirnov rushed into action inspiring his comrades and therefore defeated the attack. In that engagement 17 Germans were killed and 7 taken prisoners solely by Smirnov. A week after, Smirnov and his three fellow-soldiers were scouting for new fire positions and ran against 16 enemies who tried to take them captives. But they encountered active opposition. Nine of them were killed and 5 taken prisoners by the Soviet soldiers. For that action Smirnov was awarded 3rd Class Order of Glory. During the Vistula–Oder Offensive on 17 January 1945, Smirnov's battery was ambushed near village Postashevitze. Smirnov with three fellow soldiers assaulted the enemy. Alexey Makarovich shot down three and captured two enemy soldiers and the way ahead was free. On 22 January, when the Soviet Army was crossing the Oder, Smirnov with his mortar squad ferried the river on their own and demolished two turret machine-guns and 20 enemy soldiers. The 36th Regiment has therefore managed to gain and expand the bridgehead near the Eichenrid village, and Smirnov was awarded 2nd Class Order of Glory.

Showing great valour in the battlefield, Smirnov also led the regiment's amateur theatre. Only in May, June and July, 1944 he organized 10 performances attended by total of 6500 soldiers. Smirnov's theatre took part in the division's contests in 1943 and 1944 and won the first prize. Within that period Alexey Smirnov was awarded the Medal for Battle Merit. Starshina Smirnov did not managed to meet the Victory in Berlin. In one of the battles he got concussion and, after stationary treatment, was demobilized.

Acting in Theatre and Movies[edit]

In 1946 Alexey Smirnov was accepted to St. Peterburg Music Comedy Theatre. He was not famous and rather poor. With no work in cinema and minor parts in theatre, Alexey however had to look after his sick mother who got mental disorder after her younger son Arkady had been killed at war. Not able to follow his troupe in the road-tours Alexey Smirnov had to leave the theatre in 1952 and work in Lengosestrada. Some time later his massive bodily constitution and guileless appearance brought him to the fore and he soon was suggested a number of supporting parts in comedies. The theatric audience liked Smirnov's funny clumsy characters; especially he was favored by young public. Within early 50s Smirnov had embodied a number of noticeable parts in the Theatre of Music Comedy including those in the Wind of Freedom «Вольный ветер» and Maids' Hustle «Девичий переполох». Alexey Makarovich got, however, bored with comedy roles as he'd always been dreaming of dramatic parts. His first semi-dramatic part was Peter the Great in the play Tobacco Captain by Nikolay Aduyev.

By the end of 50s Smirnov became famous among movie-makers. In 1959 he was invited by Yuri Ozerov to his film Kochubei. The actor played an only comic role in a serious movie, which was followed by six more invitations. It is remarkable that Smirnov agreed to one of the parts in the film Roman and Franceska shot at the Dovzhenko Film Studio just to visit Kiev and see the way it had been rebuilt after the war.

In 1961, when Alexey Smirnov worked at the Lenfilm Studio, two movies with his participation in a row came out: сomedy Stripped Voyage by Vladimir Fetin and film adaptation of Gogol's Evenings on a Farm Near Dikanka. Both were enjoyed by the public.

But what brought national fame to the actor were his works in Leonid Gaidai's films.

Selected filmography[edit]

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1960 Resurrection
1961 Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki
Striped Trip
1962 Strictly Business Bill Driscoll
1964 Welcome, or No Trespassing house-keeper
1965 Operation Y and Other Shurik's Adventures
1966 Aybolit-66
1967 Wedding in Malinovka
1968 Fire, Water, and Brass Pipes
1972 Chipollino
1973 Only Old Men Are Going to Battle
1975 Finest, the brave Falcon

References[edit]

External links[edit]