James Lloydovich Patterson

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James Lloydovich Patterson
James Patterson, Lyubov Orlova and Sergei Stolyarov a scene from the Circus film.
James Patterson, Lyubov Orlova and Sergei Stolyarov a scene from the Circus film.
Born (1933-07-17) 17 July 1933 (age 86)
Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)
OccupationPoet, actor
Period1936 (actor)
1950s-present (poet)

James Lloydovich Patterson (Russian: Джеймс Ллойдович Паттерсон, [ˈd͡ʑɛjms ˈlojdɐvʲit͡ɕ ˈpatʲirsən]; born 17 July 1933) is a Russian writer, naval officer and child actor of African American and Ukrainian descent.


James Lloydovich Patterson was born in Moscow on July 17, 1933, the eldest of three children born to an African American immigrant to the Soviet Union and his Ukrainian wife. Having arrived in the USSR as an unemployed actor looking for work during the Great Depression in 1932, James Patterson's father Lloyd Patterson, just 22, decided to remain permanently after meeting and falling in love with James' mother, the theater artist Vera Ippolitovna Aralova.

James Patterson appeared in the Soviet cinema as a baby in the 1936 hit Soviet film Circus – where, parallel to his own life, he played the role of the dark-skinned child of an interracial couple.

Following Nazi Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, James and his mother were evacuated to the east, while his father, who had obtained a position with Soviet radio as a presenter for English-speaking listeners abroad, remained on the job in Moscow. He died during the war after suffering serious wounds in the bombardment of the city in 1942.[1]

James was a member of the Komsomol and graduated from the Riga Nakhimov Naval School, a prestigious military academy for boys of high-school age, in 1951.[1] Lauded as a model cadet, he proceeded to receive further training as a submariner in Leningrad. Commissioned as an officer in the Soviet Navy, Patterson began serving with the Black Sea Fleet in 1955.[1]

By the 1960s, Patterson's professional ambitions had turned to writing. Still serving in the navy, he published his literary debut, the poetry collection Russia. Africa in 1963. Leaving the Soviet Navy, Patterson graduated from the Maxim Gorky Literature Institute in 1964, drawing inspiration from subjects as diverse as the sea, the beginning of the Space Age, and the racial tension around the time of the desegregation efforts of the Civil Rights Movement. Having authored a number of works by the late 1960s, he was admitted as a member of the USSR Union of Writers in 1967.

The sweeping political and economic changes during the breakdown of the Soviet Union were also accompanied by profound difficulties for the new Russian society; a frequent visitor to his father's homeland, James Patterson and his mother immigrated to the United States from the Russian Federation in the 1990s.[1] Following the death of his mother in 2001, Patterson has lived mostly in seclusion and ill health, but continues to write poetry.[2]

Selected works[edit]

  • Россия. Африка (Russia. Africa, poems, 1963)
  • Хроника левой руки: Новеллы. М., 1964 (Chronicles of the Left Hand: Novellas, 1964)
  • Рождение ливня (Birth of the Rain, poems, 1973)
  • Взаимодействие (Interaction, poems, 1978)
  • Зимние ласточки (Winter Swallows, poems, 1980)
  • Красная лилия (The Red Lily, poems, 1984)


  1. ^ a b c d Dimenshteyn, Ilya. «Любимый воспитанник Любови Орловой». Ves.lv. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 9 May 2010. (in Russian)
  2. ^ Sputnik. "Jim Patterson: Black Soviet Icon's Lonely American Sojourn". en.ria.ru. Retrieved 4 May 2018.

Further reading[edit]

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