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Richard Marner as Colonel Erich Von Strohm
|Born||Alexander (Sacha) Molchanoff
27 March 1921
Petrograd, Russian SFSR
(now St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)
|Died||18 March 2004
Perth, United Kingdom
|Other names||Alexander (Sacha) Molchanoff|
|Spouse(s)||Pauline Farr (1947–2004)|
Richard Marner (27 March 1921 – 18 March 2004), born Alexander "Sacha" Molchanoff, was a Russian-born British actor. He was probably best known for his role as Colonel Erich Von Strohm in the British sitcom 'Allo 'Allo!.
Born in Petrograd, Soviet Union, Molchanoff was the eldest son of Colonel Paul Molchanoff, of the Semionovsky regiment, one of two that were set up for children of children who had played with Peter the Great of Russia. In 1924, his entire family left Russia and went to Finland and then Germany, before ending up in London, where Alexander's grandmother, Olga Novikov (known in the family as "Babushka London") lived in Harley Street.
After being educated at Monmouth School in Wales, Molchanoff became an assistant to the Russian tenor Vladimir Rosing, where he performed at Covent Garden. During World War II he joined the RAF, and was posted to South Africa with the Air Training Corps. After being invalided out, he changed his name to Richard Marner, and began his long successful career as a stage and film actor.
One of Marner's early stage roles – as Dracula, with Howard Dean – is still regarded by some as the definitive interpretation of the role. In 1967, well before his role as the German Colonel in 'Allo 'Allo Marner played the minor and uncredited role of a German sentry in the classic war film The Dirty Dozen. His other films include Ice Cold in Alex, You Only Live Twice, The Boys from Brazil, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The African Queen and the Swiss film Four in a Jeep, in which he did all the Russian dialogue. He was also in the television movie Birth of the Beatles, as Bruno Koschmider.
Marner's best known role was in 'Allo 'Allo! as Nazi Commandant Colonel Kurt Von Strohm. He appeared in all nine series of the programme between 1984 and 1992. He also appears in an episode of Secret Army, the programme that 'Allo 'Allo parodies.
In 1991, when the then-mayor of Moscow, Boris Yeltsin, convened a "Congress of Compatriots" (an olive branch to some of the post-1917 White Russian diaspora), Marner was one of the 600 people who returned to the motherland. Despite being caught up in a coup, he stayed long enough to watch, through tearful eyes, the raising of the first Imperial Russian flag flown in Moscow since the 1920s.
He died in Perth, Scotland and left a wife, actress Pauline Farr, who retained Molchanoff as her off-stage name. Marner was fluent in Russian, English, French and German, and was also survived by a daughter – Helen – and three grandchildren.
- Obituaries – Richard Marner; The Daily Telegraph, 24 March 2004
- "Richard Marner – Russian-born actor who played Russians in spy films and Colonel von Strohm in 'Allo 'Allo" (obituary), The Independent, 22 March 2004. Retrieved 21 October 2013.