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Lyudmila Gurchenko, 1935 - 2011

ITAR-TASS is reporting that the renowned Soviet and Russian actress Lyudmila Gurchenko has died in Moscow at the age of 75: "She played her best roles in Alexei German's Twenty Days Without War, Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky's Sibiriada, Nikita Mikhalkov's Five Evenings, Eldar Ryazanov's The Railway Station for Two, Pyotr Todorovsky's Mechanic Gavrilov's Beloved Woman, and Roman Balayan's Flights in Dreams and Reality."

As her Wikipedia entry has it, she "achieved overnight fame and celebrity status at 21 after she starred in young Eldar Ryazanov's 1956 directorial debut, musical Carnival Night. The film was enormously popular and made Lyudmila famous overnight. Throughout the next two years she toured the entire country with her Carnival Night-inspired musical numbers, attracting crowds of fans. The Soviet cultural establishment, however, deemed her style too western and too out of line with Soviet standards." But she made a roaring comeback, eventually receiving the title of People's Artist of the USSR, "the highest honor that could be bestowed to a musical artist, in 1983. In 2000, she was awarded the 4th Degree Order for the Service to the Motherland, one of the highest civil decorations in post-Soviet Russia."

Update, 4/3: For the Guardian, Ronald Bergan traces Gurchenko's rapid rise, then the period in which she was side-lined, followed by her comeback: "Unfortunately, the first film of the most satisfying period of her career, Aleksei German's Twenty Days Without War (1976), in which she played the falsely optimistic ex-wife of a war correspondent, was banned during Leonid Brezhnev's epoch of stagnation, presumably because of its anti-war theme that stresses the difference between those who experienced the fighting and those at home who needed romantic and heroic illusions. By the time it was released in 1981, Gurchenko had gained international exposure in Andrei Konchalovsky's three-hour plus epic Siberiade (1979), which depicted the lives of two families, one rich and one poor, in a Siberian village from 1909 to 1969. Winner of the special jury prize at Cannes, it starred Nikita Mikhalkov (the director's actor-director brother) as a flamboyant oilman in love with a free-spirited Gurchenko, from the richer family."

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She was truly not only a great actress but also one of the greatest people in the history of the Soviet Union and Russia. A legend! RIP
Светлая вечная память. 
Great Lady! She will be missed.

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