Yevgeny Leonov

Eugene Pavlovich Leonov (Russian: Евгений Павлович Леонов; 2 September 1926 – 29 January 1994) was a famous Soviet and Russian actor who played main parts in several of the most famous Soviet films, such as Gentlemen of Fortune, Mimino and Striped Trip. Called "one of Russia's best-loved actors",[1] he also provided the voice for many Soviet cartoon characters, including Vinny Pukh (Winnie-the-Pooh).

Eugene Leonov
Евгений Леонов
Postage stamp devoted to Leonov (2001)
Eugene Pavlovich Leonov

(1926-09-02)2 September 1926
Moscow, USSR
Died29 January 1994(1994-01-29) (aged 67)
Moscow, Russia
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Alma materMoscow Art Theatre
Years active1947–1993
TitlePeople's Artist of the USSR (1978)
Spouse(s)Vanda Stoilova
ChildrenAndrey Leonov (1959)
Parent(s)Pavel Vasilyevich Leonov
Anna Ilyinichna Leonova

Early life

While growing up in a typical Moscow family, he dreamed of becoming a war-plane pilot, which was a very common desire of many boys of the World War II period. This is also often attributed to the fact that his father worked in an airplane factory. During the Great Patriotic War he and his whole family worked in a weapon manufacturing/aviation factory.[2] After the war, he joined the Moscow Art Theatre school, where he studied under Mikhail Yanshin.


In his first film, Leonov was cast as an extra and did not receive any recognition. He later became Georgiy Daneliya's regular, appearing in all of his features, including Gentlemen of Fortune, Autumn Marathon, Mimino, Afonya and Kin-dza-dza!. According to the Allmovie, "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 he also attracted critical notice for his tragic parts and the invariable naturalness of his acting. Many notable actors were said to avoid appearing in the same films with Leonov, for his natural manner of acting made them seem strained.

Despite Leonov's brief appearance in Danelia's Autumn Marathon (1980) (one of his most popular films), the role won him the Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. In Autumn Marathon, it is said, Leonov brilliantly demonstrates the typical Leonov anti-hero. He gave a hilarious portrayal of a simple, nosey man who drank too much and who adored nothing more than talking nonsense as long as anyone could stand it. Among the other films he was instrumental in raising to the classic level were Gentlemen of Fortune and The Belorussia Station, both made in 1971.[2] Like all of Leonov's movies, they are frequently rerun on television. Reportedly, "Leonov was to Russians what Fernandel was to the French."[1] He performed over 200 roles and was the Russian cinema's best-known supporting actor.[1]

In 1991 (or in 1988[3][4][5]), when touring in Germany, he suffered a massive heart attack, which put him into a coma for 10 days (or 16 days[3][4][5]). His life was saved only after major surgery and Leonov recovered – only to begin a schedule of performances at the Leninski Komsomol Theatre (also called the Lenkom Theatre).[1]

In 1993, a year before his death, Leonov was asked during a film festival "What years in the Russian theatre's life were the most productive?" Leonov replied:

Leonov died on 29 January 1994 on his way to the Lenkom Theatre to perform in The Prayer For The Dead (A Memorial Prayer[2]).[1] When his death was announced in the auditorium, the audience spontaneously flooded into the church across the road and lit candles in mourning.[1] Over half a million people turned out in freezing conditions for a procession to a memorial service.[1] He is buried in Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow near other outstanding figures of Russian culture.[7]


  • Happy Flight (Счастливый рейс) (1949) as firefighter
  • Sporting Honour (Спортивная честь) (1951) as steward
  • Submarine chaser (Морской охотник) (1954) as cook
  • Road (Дорога) (1955) as driver Pasha Yeskov
  • Criminal Case of Rumyantsev (Дело Румянцева) (1955) as driver Mikhail Snegiryov
  • A Unique Spring (Неповторимая весна) (1957) as Koshelev
  • The street is full of surprises (Улица полна неожиданностей) (1957) as policeman Serdyukov
  • Difficult happiness (Трудное счастье) (1958) as Agathon
  • Ne imey 100 rubley... (Не имей сто рублей...) (1959) as Ivan S. Mukhin
  • Artwork (Произведение искусства) (1959) as Sasha Smirnov
  • Tale of newlyweds (Повесть о молодожёнах) (1959) as Fedor
  • Snow tale (Снежная сказка) (1959) as Old Year
  • Striped Trip (Полосатый рейс) (1961) as Shuleykin
  • Cheremushki (Черёмушки) (1962) as Barabashkin
  • Short humoresques (Короткие истории) (1963) as client
  • Serf actress (Крепостная актриса) (1963) as Count Ivan P. Kutaisov
  • Don Tale (Донская повесть) (1964) as Yakov Shibalok
  • Thirty Three (Тридцать три) (1965) as Ivan S. Travkin
  • The Snow Queen (Снежная королева) (1967) as King Erik XXIX
  • Illusionist (Фокусник) (1967) as Stepan Rossomakhin
  • Virineya (Виринея) (1968) as Michael
  • Literature lesson (Урок литературы) (1968) as Pavel Vronsky, Nina's father
  • Do not be sad (Не горюй!) (1969) as soldier Yegor Zaletayev
  • Zigzag udachi (Зигзаг удачи) (1969) as photographer Vladimir Oreshnikov
  • Tchaikovsky (Чайковский) (1969) as Aliosha
  • Carrousel (Карусель) (1969) as Ivan I. Nyukhin
  • Shine, shine, my star (Гори, гори, моя звезда) (1970) as Pasha, the master illusion
  • Between high spikes (Меж высоких хлебов) (1970) as Pavlo Struchok
  • Belorussian station (Белорусский вокзал) (1970) as Ivan Prikhodko
  • Gentlemen of Fortune (Джентльмены удачи) (1971) as Troshkin/Docent
  • We rode the tram Ilf and Petrov (Ехали в трамвае Ильф и Петров) (1972) as Vitaly Kapitulov
  • Racers (Гонщики) (1972) as Ivan M. Kukushkin
  • Big School-Break (Большая перемена) (1972) as Lednev
  • Under a stone sky (Под каменным небом) (1973) as Senior lieutenant Kravtsov
  • Hopelessly Lost (Совсем пропащий) (1973) as rogue nicknamed "The King"
  • Bonus (Премия) (1974) as Vasily T. Potapov
  • Circus in the Circus (Соло для слона с оркестром) (1975) as circus director Ivanov
  • Afonya (Афоня) (1975) as Kolya
  • The Elder Son (Старший сын) (1976) as Andrei Grigorievich Sarafanov
  • Step towards (Шаг навстречу) (1975) as Serafim Nikitich
  • Legend about Till Eulenspiegel (Легенда о Тиле) (1976) as Lamme Goedzak
  • Long criminal case (Длинное, длинное дело) (1976) as Mikhail P. Luzhin
  • Mimino (Мимино) (1977) as Volokhov
  • Funny people! (Смешные люди!) (1977) as chorister Aleksei Alekseyevich
  • Marriage (Женитьба) (1977) as Baltazar Baltazarovich Zhevakin
  • Chaperon (Дуэнья) (1978) as Don Izokelyo Mendoso
  • An Ordinary Miracle (Обыкновенное чудо) (1978) as King
  • And it's all about him (И это всё о нём) (1978) as Police Captain Aleksandr M. Prokhorov
  • Autumn Marathon (Осенний марафон) (1979) as Kharitonov
  • Faithfully (Верой и правдой) (1979) as Evgeny S. Bannikov
  • Holidays in September (Отпуск в сентябре) (1979) as Kushak
  • Borrowing Matchsticks (За спичками) (1980) as Antti Ihalainen
  • Say a Word for the Poor Hussar (О бедном гусаре замолвите слово) (1981) as provincial actor Afanasy P. Bubentsov
  • Tears Were Falling (Слёзы капали) (1982) as Pavel Vasin
  • Unique (Уникум) (1982) as director
  • The House that Swift Built (Дом, который построил Свифт) (1982) as giant Glyum
  • Time and the Conways (Время и семья Конвей) (1984) as Alan Conway, twenty years later
  • Kin-dza-dza! (Кин-дза-дза!) (1986) as Wef the Chatlanian, a wandering singer
  • To Kill a Dragon (Убить Дракона) (1988) as burgomaster
  • Passport (Паспорт) (1990) as official of Soviet Embassy in Austria
  • Nastya (Настя) (1993) as Yakov Alekseyevich
  • Detective bureau "Felix" (Детективное агентство "Феликс") (1993) as uncle Vanya
  • Amerikanskiy dedushka (Американский дедушка) (1993) as Gogolev
Voice actor


  1. Death: Yevgeny Leonov. The Guardian (London). 23 February 1994.
  2. Russia Parts With a Comic Legend. John Freedman. The Moscow Times No. 392. 3 February 1994.
  3. Леонов Евгений - Биография - Актеры советского и российского кино (in Russian)
  4. Евгений Леонов (Evgeniy Leonov) - биография - советские актёры - Кино-Театр.РУ (in Russian)
  5. Биография Евгения Леонова - РИА Новости, 02.09.2016 (in Russian)
  6. This will be a fantastic show. KORNYEVA Irina, FUKS Olga. Moscow News (Russia). CULTURE; No. 19. May 7, 1993.
  7. Sviridov buried in Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow. Viktoria Dunayeva. TASS 9 January 1998.
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