Innokenty Smoktunovsky

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Innokenty Smoktunovsky
Иннокентий Смоктуновский в 1943 году.jpeg
Smoktunovsky in 1943
Innokenty Mikhaylovich Smoktunovich

(1925-03-28)28 March 1925
Died3 August 1994(1994-08-03) (aged 69)
Moscow, Russia
Years active1956–1994

Innokenty Mikhaylovich Smoktunovsky (Russian: Иннокентий Михайлович Смоктуновский; born Smoktunovich, 28 March 1925 – 3 August 1994) was a Soviet actor acclaimed as the "king of Soviet actors". He was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1974 and the Hero of Socialist Labour in 1990.

Early life

Smoktunovsky (left) with brother Vladimir and aunt in 1930

Smoktunovsky was born in a Siberian village in a peasant family of Belarusian ethnicity.[1] It was once rumored that he came from a Polish family, even nobility,[2] but the actor himself disapproved those theories by stating his family was Belarusian and not of nobility.[1] He served in the Red Army during World War II. In 1946, he joined a theatre in Krasnoyarsk, later moving to Moscow. In 1957, he was invited by Georgy Tovstonogov to join the Bolshoi Drama Theatre of Leningrad, where he stunned the public with his dramatic interpretation of Prince Myshkin in Dostoyevsky's The Idiot. One of his best roles was the title role in Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy's Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich (Maly Theatre, 1973).

Film career

Smoktunovsky as Hamlet with Anastasiya Vertinskaya on a 1966 Soviet stamp

His career in film was launched by Mikhail Romm's movie Nine Days of One Year (1962). In 1964, he was cast in the role of Hamlet in Grigori Kozintsev's celebrated screen version of Shakespeare's play, which won him praise from Laurence Olivier as well as the Lenin Prize. Many English critics even ranked the Hamlet of Smoktunovsky above the one played by Olivier, at a time when Olivier's was still considered definitive. Smoktunovsky created an integral heroic portrait, which blended together what seemed incompatible before: manly simplicity and exquisite aristocratism, kindness and caustic sarcasm, a derisive mindset and self-sacrifice.

Smoktunovsky became known to wider audiences as Yuri Detochkin in Eldar Ryazanov's detective satire Beware of the Car (1966), which revealed the actor's outstanding comic gifts. Later, he played Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Tchaikovsky (1969), Uncle Vanya in Andrei Konchalovsky's screen version of Chekhov's play (1970), the Narrator in Andrei Tarkovsky's The Mirror (1975), an old man in Anatoly Efros's On Thursday and Never Again (1977), and Salieri in Mikhail Schweitzer's Little Tragedies (1979) based on Aleksander Pushkin's plays.

In 1990, Smoktunovsky won the Nika Award in the category Best Actor. He died on Wednesday 3 August 1994, at a sanatorium, aged 69.[3] The minor planet 4926 Smoktunovskij was named after him.

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b Dubrovsky, V. Ya. (2002) Иннокентий Смоктуновский. Жизнь и роли. B. M. Poyurovsky (ed.), Moscow: Iskusstvo. ISBN 5-210-01434-7.
  2. ^ Герой Социалистического Труда Смоктуновский Иннокентий Михайлович :: Герои страны. Retrieved on 10 May 2016.
  3. ^ "I. Smoktunovsky, Russian Actor, 69". The New York Times. 4 August 1994. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 1 February 2016.

External links