Maria Rasputin

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Matryona Rasputina
Rasputindaughtercropped.jpg
Matryona Rasputina, far right, with her father, Grigori, left, and Maria Gill in the center, in March 1914.
Born Matryona Grigorievna Rasputina
March 29, 1899
Pokrovskoye, Russian Empire
Died September 27, 1977(1977-09-27) (aged 78)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Other names Maria Rasputin, Maria Rasputina
Occupation Writer, Cabaret dancer, Circus performer, Riveter
Spouse(s) Boris Soloviev (1917-1926)
Gregory Bernardsky (1940-1946)
Children Tatyana Solovieva
Maria Solovieva
Parents Grigori Rasputin and Praskovia Fedorovna Dubrovina

Maria Rasputin[1] (born Matryona Grigorievna Rasputina; March 29, 1899),[2] - September 27, 1977[3][4] was the daughter of the Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin and his wife Praskovia Fyodorovna Dubrovina. Only her mother and her father called Maria by the name "Matryona".

Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, she wrote several memoirs about her father's life, association with Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna, and murder.

Early life[edit]

Maria was born in the Siberian village of Pokrovskoye, Tobolsk Governorate, but came to St. Petersburg as a teenager, where her first name was changed from Matryona to Maria to better fit with her social aspirations.[1] Rasputin had brought Maria and her younger sister Varvara to live with him and attend Steblin-Kamensky private preparatory school in St. Petersburg in 1913 with the hope of turning them into "little ladies."[5] Maria was Rasputin's favorite child.[6]

The writer Vera Zhukovskaya later described sixteen-year-old Maria as having a wide face with a square chin and "bright-colored lips" that she frequently licked in a movement Zhukovskaya thought was predatory. Her strong body seemed about to burst out of its cashmere dress and smelled of sweat.[7] Society ladies kissed the tall teenager and called her by her pet names "Mara" and "Marochka" during one gathering at her father's modest apartment. Zhukovskaya thought it was odd to see Rasputin's daughter receiving so much attention from princesses and countesses.[8]

Maria later told her grandchildren that her father taught her to be generous even in times when she was in need herself. Rasputin said she should never leave home with empty pockets, but should always have something in them to give to the poor.[9]

Death of Rasputin[edit]

Rasputin's daughters were living with him in a small apartment in St. Petersburg in December 1916 when he was lured to his death at a party at the home of Felix Yussupov, whom Rasputin called "The Little One."[10] They reported their father's movements to police investigators the following day and identified boots pulled out of the river as belonging to their father.[11]

In April 1918, as the Tsar and Tsarina were traveling to their final exile at Ekaterinburg, Alexandra looked out the window of the train at Pokrovskoye and saw Rasputin's family and friends staring back at them from the window of Rasputin's house.[12][clarification needed]

Life following the Revolution[edit]

Maria was briefly engaged during World War I to a Georgian officer surnamed Pankhadze. Pankhadze had avoided being sent to the war front thanks to Rasputin's intervention and was doing his military service with the reserve battalions in St. Petersburg.[13]

After Rasputin's murder, Rasputin's followers persuaded Maria to marry Boris Soloviev, the charismatic son of Nikolai Soloviev, the Treasurer of the Holy Synod and one of her father's admirers. Boris Soloviev quickly emerged as Rasputin's successor after the murder. Soloviev, who had studied hypnotism, attended meetings at which Rasputin's followers attempted to communicate with the dead through prayer meetings and séances.[14] Maria also attended the meetings, but later wrote in her diary that she could not understand why her father kept telling her to "love Boris" when the group spoke to him at the séances. She said she did not like Boris at all.[15] Soloviev was no more enthusiastic about Maria. In his own diary, he wrote that his wife was not even useful for sexual relations, because there were so many women who had bodies he found more attractive than hers.[16] Nonetheless, she married Soloviev on October 5, 1917. They returned to Siberia and lived for several weeks in Rasputin's house at Pokrovskoye.[15] Later, Soloviev took jewels from the Tsar and Tsarina to help arrange for their escape, but kept the funds for himself.

Later, after the Bolsheviks took power, Soloviev turned in the officers who had come to Ekaterinburg to plan the escape of the Romanovs. Soloviev lost the money he had obtained from the jewels during the civil war that followed.[17] There were also several reports of young people in Russia passing themselves off as Romanov escapees following the Revolution. Soloviev defrauded prominent Russian families by asking for money for a Romanov impostor to escape to China. Soloviev also found young women willing to masquerade as one of the grand duchesses for the benefit of the families he had defrauded.[18]

Exile[edit]

Maria Rasputina as a circus performer in 1932

Soloviev and Maria escaped first to Bucharest in Romania where Maria was a cabaret dancer. They later emigrated to Paris, where Soloviev worked in an automobile factory and died of tuberculosis in 1926.[12] Maria found work as a governess to support their two young daughters. After Felix Yussupov published his memoir detailing the death of her father, Maria sued Yussupov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia in a Paris court for damages of $800,000. She condemned both men as murderers and said any decent person would be disgusted by the ferocity of Rasputin's killing.[19] Maria's claim was dismissed. The French court ruled that it had no jurisdiction over a political killing that took place in Russia.[20]

Maria published the first of three memoirs about Rasputin in 1932. It was entitled Rasputin, My Father.[21][22] She also later co-authored a cookbook, which includes recipes for jellied fish heads and her father's favorite, cod soup.[23] She also worked as a cabaret dancer in Bucharest, Romania,[24] and then found work as a circus performer for Ringling Brothers Circus. During the 1930s she toured Europe and America as a lion tamer, billing herself as "the daughter of the famous mad monk whose feats in Russia astonished the world."[25] She was mauled by a bear in Peru, Indiana, but stayed with the circus until it reached Miami, Florida, where she quit and began work as a riveter in a defence shipyard during World War II.[24] She settled permanently in the United States in 1937. In 1940, at the age of 39, she married a man named Gregory Bernadsky in Miami and in 1945 became a U.S. citizen.[26]

Maria worked in defence plants until 1955 when she was forced to retire because of her age. After that, she supported herself by working in hospitals, giving Russian lessons, and babysitting for friends.[27]

Maria claimed to be psychic in 1968 and said Betty Ford had come to her in a dream and smiled.[24] At one point, she said she recognized Anna Anderson as Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna of Russia. A friend called her "Little Mother" because Maria fretted over whether handbags were in reach of strangers in restaurants, open suitcases in hotel rooms, and whether a reporter who was interviewing her had been given a comfortable enough chair.[24] At one point, she had two pet dogs, whom she called Youssou and Pov after Felix Yussupov.[28]

During the last years of her life, she lived in Los Angeles, California,[25] while receiving her Social Security benefits.[1] Her home was at 3458 Larissa Drive in the Silverlake area of Los Angeles. As of 2013, the original home is still standing. Maria is buried in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery. Her headstone is located in Section H, Lot 189, Grave 1N, in the top center of that section.

Legacy[edit]

One of Maria's two daughters married the Dutch ambassador to Greece and later became friends with Yussupov's daughter, Irina Yusupova, during the 1950s.[29] Maria told her four grandchildren that their infamous great-grandfather was a "simple man with a big heart and strong spiritual power, who loved Russia, God, and the Tsar," her granddaughter Laurence Huot-Solovieff, the daughter of Maria's daughter Tatyana, recalled in 2005.[9] Maria's descendants live today near Paris.[1] A fictionalized account of Maria's life recently appeared in the 2006 novel Rasputin's Daughter, by Robert Alexander. Her modern day descendent is Anastasia Frolova who is currently studying at Edinburgh University.[1]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Alexander, Robert, Rasputin's Daughter, Penguin Books, 2006, ISBN 978-0-14-303865-8, pp. 297-298
  2. ^ "Findagrave.com". Findagrave.com. Retrieved 2014-03-19. 
  3. ^ U.S. Social Security Death Index, Name: Maria Bern, Birth: 27 Mar 1889, SSN: 115-09-2290, Issued: New York, Death: Sep 1977, Last Residence: 90026 (Los Angeles, Los Angeles Co., CA).
  4. ^ California State Death Index, Name: Maria G. Rasputin, Birth Date: 03-27-1899 [sic], Sex: Female, Death Place: Los Angeles Co. (19), Death Date: 09-27-1977, SSN: 115-09-2290, Age: 78 yrs. [sic]
  5. ^ Edvard Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, Doubleday, 2000, ISBN 0-385-48909-9, p. 201.
  6. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 492
  7. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 202
  8. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 216
  9. ^ a b Stolyarova, Galina (2005). "Rasputin's Notoriety Dismays Relative". "The St. Petersburg Times(St. Petersburg, Russia)". Retrieved February 18, 2007. 
  10. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, pp. 452-454
  11. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, pp. 452-454
  12. ^ a b Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 494
  13. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 385
  14. ^ Robert K. Massie, Nicholas and Alexandra, Dell Publishing Co., 1967, ISBN 0-440-16358-7, p. 487
  15. ^ a b Massie, p. 487
  16. ^ Radzinsky, Edvard, The Last Tsar, Doubleday, 1992, ISBN 0-385-42371-3, p. 230
  17. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, pp. 493-494
  18. ^ Occleshaw, Michael, The Romanov Conspiracies: The Romanovs and the House of Windsor, Orion Publishing Group Ltd., 1993, ISBN 1-85592-518-4 p. 47
  19. ^ King, Greg, The Man Who Killed Rasputin, Carol Publishing Group, 1995, ISBN 0-8065-1971-1, p. 232
  20. ^ King, p. 233
  21. ^ Radzinsky, pp. 493-494
  22. ^ King, pp. 232-233
  23. ^ Alexander, pp. 297-298
  24. ^ a b c d Barry, Rey (1968). "Kind Rasputin". "The Daily Progress (Charlottesville, Virginia, USA)". Retrieved February 18, 2007. 
  25. ^ a b Massie, p. 526
  26. ^ Time magazine (March 4, 1940). "Milestones, Mar. 4, 1940". Time magazine. Retrieved Dec 14, 2013. 
  27. ^ Wallechinsky, David, and Wallace, Irving (1975–1981). "People's Almanac Series". "Famous Family History Grigori Rasputin Children". Retrieved February 18, 2007. 
  28. ^ King, p. 277
  29. ^ Radzinsky, The Rasputin File, p. 500

References[edit]