Named a People's Artist of the Soviet Union in 1979, leading Russian actress Rufina Nifontova appeared on stage, screen and television. The daughter of working-class parents, she was born and raised in a village outside of Moscow. In the 1940s, she studied at Moscow's State Institute of Film (VGIK) where her classmates included such great Russian actresses as Maya Bulgakova and Tatiana Konyukhova. Nifontova graduated in 1955 and made her film debut the following year in Grigory Roshal's Volnitsa/Lover of Freedom (1956). Her portrayal of the Nastya earned her an award from the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and made her a star. Blessed with a pretty and intelligent face, she specialized in literary adaptations and often played outwardly gentle, but inwardly strong women able to face the toughest situations. She next starred as Katya in Roshal's trilogy (based on Alexei Tolstoy's Khozhdeniye Po Mukam/Purgatory (1957-59). This proved to be her most famous role. Nifontova joined Moscow's famed Maly theater in 1958 and though not always a member of the troupe, continued performing there until her death in late 1994. During the 1970s, Nifontova frequently appeared in television movies based on literary works.