Evgeniy Leonov

Active - 1949 - 1993  |   Born - Sep 2, 1926   |   Died - Jan 29, 1994   |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Comedy Drama, Fantasy

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

At the peak of his popularity in the 1970s, actor Yevgeny Leonov was one of the Soviet Union's most recognizable actors. His short, round stature, expressive eyes, broad and open face, slow movements, and slightly slurred speech made him ideal for the comic roles in which he specialized. But his popularity did not come from his humorous appearance, rather from his ability to provide depth, realism, and, at times, sympathy to even his broadest caricatures. Graduating from Moscow's VGIK, Leonov studied under the esteemed Mikhail Yanshin in 1947. The following year he joined the Stanislavsky Drama Theatre. He was discovered while playing Lariosik in a theatrical production of Mikhail Bulgakov's The White Guard, a role that was passed down to him by its originator, Yanshin. He made his film debut in Lucky Flight (1949). Though he would most frequently essay comic heros, Leonov occasionally played villains, as in The Rumyantsev Case (1956) wherein cowardice leads him to betray a friend. His rare straight dramatic roles include that of a disillusioned WWII veteran in Belorussky Station (1971) and an easily duped, psychologically troubled father in the comedy-drama Starshy Syn/Elder Son (1974). Leonov's most popular films include Georgi Daneliya's Afonya (1975), Gentlemen of Fortune (1972), and Ordinary Miracle (1978). As further evidence of his versatility, Leonov provided the voice of Winnie the Pooh in an animated Russian version of A.A. Milne's classic children's tale.

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