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Signature of Karandash

Mikhail Nikolayevich Rumyantsev (Russian: Михаи́л Никола́евич Румя́нцев) (10 December 1901 – 31 March 1983), better known under his stage name Karandash (Russian: Каранда́ш which means pencil), was a famous Soviet clown.[1][2] He was a People's Artist of the USSR and a Hero of Socialist Labour, and was the teacher of the famous Russian clowns Oleg Popov and Yuri Nikulin.[3][4]

Family life[edit]

Rumyantsev was born in Saint Petersburg, and had two younger siblings, brother Kostya and sister Lena.[2] His mother died when he was six.

Rumyantsev had at least two daughters.[3]

Career as clown[edit]

1989 stamp commemorating Karandash

Starting his career in the circus arena as the imitator of Charlie Chaplin, Mikhail Rumyantsev then abandoned it for, or rather, transformed that part into his would-be renowned image of Karandash always accompanied with his hallmark Scottish Terrier named Klyaksa (which means blot).

He enjoyed immense popularity with the Soviet audience and often gathered full houses all over the country.

Rumyantsev taught his profession to both Oleg Popov and Yuri Nikulin.[5]

During the Second World War, Rumyantsev mimicked German soldiers.[6]

In 1960, he toured South America with the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard.[6][7]

Altogether Karandash had worked in the circus for 55 years, the last time he appeared in the arena was just two weeks prior to his death.

The Moscow Circus School was named after him.[8]


  1. ^ Biography in Italian Archived 2007-08-29 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 27 April 2007.
  2. ^ a b Biography in Russian, retrieved 27 April 2007.
  3. ^ a b Monument to legendary clown Karandash to open in Gomel June 1, 2006, Official site of Gomel Oblast, retrieved 27 April 2007.
  4. ^ History of clowns in Russia, retrieved 27 April 2007.
  5. ^ Biography of Yuri Nikulin, retrieved on 27 April 2007.
  6. ^ a b Official site of Nikulin's circus Archived 2007-02-10 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved on 27 April 2007.
  7. ^ Reddest show on Earth, Time, 4 April 1960, retrieved on 27 April 2007.
  8. ^ Governmental Russian site about the school Archived 2011-10-01 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 30 April 2007.

External links[edit]