Pavel Luspekayev

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Pavel Borisovich Luspekayev (Russian: Па́вел Бори́сович Луспека́ев) (April 20, 1927, Luhansk - April 17, 1970, Moscow) was a Soviet actor who is best known for his role of Vereschagin in the classic Russian movie White Sun of the Desert.

Pavel Luspekayev was born in Luhansk, Ukraine in 1927. He was 14 when the German-Soviet War started in 1941. Young Pavel joined the Soviet partisans unit where he was later wounded. In 1946, after the end of the war, Luspekayev became student in the Moscow's Schepkin theatre school. After finishing the school in 1950 he performed in Tbilisi's Griboedov Russian Drama Theatre, in 1956 in Kiev's Lesya Ukrainka National Academic Theater of Russian Drama. In 1959 he joined Leningrad's Bolshoi Drama Theatre where he performed in plays under director Georgy Tovstonogov. In 1965 Luspekayev was awarded the title of Meritorious Artist (Zasluzhenny aktyor) of RSFSR.

Due to his wound, Luspekayev developed peripheral vascular disease in his legs when he was 26. The illness progressed, and later his feet were amputated. Nevertheless, he continued to perform on prosthesis, even though he was suffering from pain. During filming of White Sun of the Desert in 1969, Luspekayev's condition worsened, and he could barely walk. His wife was carrying a small folding chair, and Luspekayev had to take a rest every 20 steps. In the original script, the role of Vereschagin was a minor one, but during filming, the role began to expand, with some of the scenes being improvised in place. The connection between the actor and the role he was playing became so strong, that the crew began to call Vereschagin by name Pavel (Pasha), even though in the script his name was Alexander. Shortly after the White Sun of the Desert was released, Pavel Luspekayev died because of his illness.

Selected filmography[edit]

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