Vasily Livanov

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Vasily Livanov
Born Vasily Borisovich Livanov
(1935-07-19) 19 July 1935 (age 80)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR
(now Moscow, Russian Federation)
Occupation Actor, Screenwriter
Years active 1959–present
Spouse(s) Elena Livanova (1973–present)
Parent(s) Boris Livanov

Vasily Borisovich Livanov MBE, FMF, PAR (Russian: Васи́лий Бори́сович Лива́нов; born 19 July 1935) is a Russian film actor and screenwriter. He is widely regarded as having reproduced the best portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on film to date.


Livanov's father, Boris Livanov, was a prominent actor of the Moscow Art Theatre. Vasily was brought up in the artistic milieu, as many Soviet/Russian actors (such as Olga Knipper and Alla Tarasova) worked with his father and frequented the Livanov house.

Livanov graduated from the Vakhtangov Theatre school and started his film career in 1959. His breakthrough role came in the 1963 adaptation of Vasily Aksyonov's Colleagues, in which he co-starred with Vasily Lanovoy and Oleg Anofriev.

Livanov's rather erratic bohemian lifestyle derailed his film career[citation needed]. He made very few appearances in the movies produced in the late 1960s and 1970s, using his newly acquired hoarse voice to become the voice behind multiple popular Soviet cartoon characters – Gena the Crocodile, Udav (the snake) from 38 Parrots (Russian: 38 попугаев). His other contribution to the Soyuzmultfilm cartoon industry was co-writing the screenplay for the animated film Town Musicians of Bremen, a modernised adaptation of the homonymous folktale. He also directed a few animated films, e.g. The Blue Bird.

This photograph of Livanov as Sherlock Holmes is displayed at the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street.

In the late 1970s and in the 1980s, Livanov returned to film stardom in what became the greatest success of his acting career: the role of Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles and other Holmes TV series directed by Igor Maslennikov.

Sherlock Holmes short stories and novels that were featured in Livanov's movies included:

Those movies were filmed between 1979 and 1986, with the latter four stories forming the plot of a standalone big-screen feature entitled The Twentieth Century Approaches. Vasily Livanov played Sherlock Holmes and Vitaly Solomin played Doctor Watson.

The daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle Jean Conan Doyle once commented that her father would approve Livanov as Holmes.[citation needed]

On 20 February 2006 Livanov became an Honorary MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) "for service to the theatre and performing arts".[1]

On April 27, 2007 a sculpture featuring Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson as portrayed by Vasily Livanov and Vitaly Solomin was opened on the Smolenskaya embankment alongside the Embassy of the United Kingdom in Moscow (sculptor Andrey Orlov).[2]

Personal life[edit]

Vasily Livanov was a close friend of Vitaly Solomin and Rina Zelyonaya, who played Doctor Watson and Mrs. Hudson. As he writes in his memoir,

It happens so that when someone passes away, we customarily treat his actions and related events as the thing of the past. But everything about my beloved closest friend and partner Vitaly Solomin has become a part of my way of life, my conscience, so for me it will become the thing of the past only when I pass away too.[3]

Vasily Livanov is also known for his unique voice, with a rich timbre and a resonant tone.[4]

His wife is Elena Artemyevna Livanova, an animation artist; they have three children together: Anastasya, who is a sculptor and a member of the Moscow union of artists, Boris, and Nikolay.


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