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Leonid Yengibarov was born in Moscow to an Armenian father and a Russian mother. He started his career as a boxer. In 1955 he joined the State School of Circus Art, Clownship department. After graduation in 1959 he moved to Yerevan and joined the Armenian state circus.
He was one of the first Soviet clowns to create the poetic, intellectual clownery, which made spectators think, not only laugh. After initial incomprehension, his popularity grew immensely. After that he was invited to work in cinema. His first film, A Path to the Arena, was in fact about himself.
By the end of the 1960s he was known as one of the best clowns in the country and in the countries of the Eastern bloc, where he was permitted to travel. His circus career came to a halt in 1971: he left the State Circus when his partner was banned from international touring. He created a Pantomime Theatre (эстрадный театр пантомимы) instead. However officially he was forbidden to call his company “theatre”, only allowed to use the term “troupe” (ансамбль). He managed to stage only a single piece, “Star Rain” before his untimely death.
- 1963: A Path to the Arena, Путь на арену
- 1964: Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors, Тени забытых предков
- 1966: Aybolit-66, Айболит-66
- 1971: A Necklace for My Beloved, Ожерелье для моей любимой. (Comedy, directed by Tengiz Abuladze, cast in the Georgian SSR, Soviet Union)
- 1972: Stoves-Benches, Печки-лавочки
Films about him
- Please meet Leonid Yengibarov, Знакомьтесь: Леонид Енгибаров
- 2 Leonid 2, 2 Леонид 2