Georgiy Vitsin

Active - 1951 - 1994  |   Born - Apr 5, 1917   |   Died - Oct 22, 2001   |   Genres - Comedy, Children's/Family, Fantasy, Drama

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Though Russian actor Georgi Vitsin was primarily known as a film comedian, he was initially trained as a stage dramatic actor at the Moscow Art Theatre (MKHAT) and N.P. Khmelev's Actors Studio. After entering the film industry in 1945, he played the great writer Nikolai Gogol in Belinsky (1951). The famous film director Grigori Kozintsev, who was reportedly planning to give Vitsin the title role in Hamlet (1964), backed out when the actor had gained popularity in the slapstick comedies Samogonshchiki (The Moonshiners) and Pes Barbos I Neobychnyy Kross (Barbos the Dog and an Unusual Cross-Country Run) by director Leonid Gaidai. Those movies depicted the misadventures of three incompetent small-time crooks (the other two were played by Yuri Nikulin and Yevgeny Morgunov). The infamous trio had proved so successful that Gaidai featured it in his subsequent comedies Operatsiya "Y" I Drugie Priklyucheniya Shurika (The Operation "Y" and the Other Adventures of Shurik) (1965) and Kavkazskaya Plennitsa (Kidnapping Caucasian Style) (1966). Among Vitsin's other celebrated comedic roles are Sir Andrew in The Twelfth Night (1956), Balzaminov in Zhenitba Balzaminova (The Marriage of Balzaminov) (1965), Khmyr in Dzhentlmeny Udachi (The Gentlemen of Fortune) (1972), and Tyutyurin in Neispravimyy Lgun (The Compulsive Liar) (1973). In 1990 the actor was awarded the title of People's Artist of the Soviet Union. He stopped making movies in the mid-'90s and only occasionally appeared in concerts with standup routines. A long-time yoga devotee, Vitsin kept practicing even in his later years, which, according to some doctors, might have had a negative effect on his health.

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