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Innokenty Smoktunovsky

Innokenty Smoktunovsky
Иннокентий Смоктуновский
Smoktunovsky in 1943
Innokenty Mikhailovich Smoktunovich

(1925-03-28)28 March 1925
Died3 August 1994(1994-08-03) (aged 69)
Moscow, Russia
Resting placeNovodevichy Cemetery, Moscow
Years active1946–1994
TitlePeople's Artist of the USSR (1974)
Hero of Socialist Labour (1990)
SpouseShulamith Kushnir

Innokenty Mikhailovich Smoktunovsky (Russian: Иннокентий Михайлович Смоктуновский; born Smoktunovich, 28 March 1925 – 3 August 1994) was a Soviet and Russian stage and film actor. He was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1974 and a Hero of Socialist Labour in 1990.[1]

Early life

Smoktunovsky (left) with brother Vladimir and aunt in 1930

Smoktunovsky was born in a Siberian village in a peasant family of Belarusian ethnicity.[2] It was once rumored that he came from a Polish family, even nobility,[3] but the actor himself denied these theories by stating his family was Belarusian and not of nobility.[2] He served in the Red Army during World War II and fought in the battles of Kursk, the Dnieper and Kiev. In 1946, he joined a theatre in Krasnoyarsk, later moving to Moscow. In 1957, he was invited by Georgy Tovstonogov to join the Bolshoi Drama Theatre of Leningrad, where he stunned the public with his dramatic interpretation of Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky's The Idiot. One of his best roles was the title role in Aleksey Konstantinovich Tolstoy's Tsar Fyodor Ioannovich (Maly Theatre, 1973).

Film career

Smoktunovsky as Prince Hamlet with Anastasiya Vertinskaya on a 1966 Soviet stamp

His career in film was launched by Mikhail Romm's film Nine Days in One Year (1962). In 1964, he was cast in the role of Prince Hamlet in Grigori Kozintsev's celebrated screen version of Shakespeare's play, which won him praise from Laurence Olivier as well as the Lenin Prize. Many English critics even ranked the Hamlet of Smoktunovsky above the one played by Olivier, at a time when Olivier's was still considered definitive. Smoktunovsky created an integral heroic portrait, which blended together what seemed incompatible before: manly simplicity and exquisite aristocratism, kindness and caustic sarcasm, a derisive mindset and self-sacrifice.

Smoktunovsky became known to wider audiences as Yuri Detochkin in Eldar Ryazanov's detective satire Beware of the Car (1966), which revealed the actor's outstanding comic gifts. Later, he played Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in Tchaikovsky (1969), Uncle Vanya in Andrei Konchalovsky's screen version of Chekhov's play (1970), the Narrator in Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror (1975), an old man in Anatoly Efros's On Thursday and Never Again (1977), and Salieri in Mikhail Schweitzer's Little Tragedies (1979) based on Alexander Pushkin's plays.

In 1990, Smoktunovsky won the Nika Award in the category Best Actor. He died on 3 August 1994, at a sanatorium, aged 69.[4] The minor planet 4926 Smoktunovskij was named after him.



  1. ^ Rollberg, Peter (2016). Historical Dictionary of Russian and Soviet Cinema. US: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 695–696. ISBN 978-1-4422-6842-5.
  2. ^ a b Dubrovsky, V. Ya. (2002). Poyurovsky, B. M. (ed.). Иннокентий Смоктуновский. Жизнь и роли [Innokenty Smoktunovsky. Life and Roles] (in Russian). Moscow: Iskusstvo. ISBN 5-210-01434-7.[pages needed]
  3. ^ "Герой Социалистического Труда Смоктуновский Иннокентий Михайлович". (in Russian). Retrieved 10 May 2016.
  4. ^ "I. Smoktunovsky, Russian Actor, 69". The New York Times. 4 August 1994. Retrieved 1 February 2016.
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Innokenty Smoktunovsky
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