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            Nonna Mordyukova

            Biografie

            Nonna Mordyukova, one of the foremost actresses of the Soviet Cinema, was frequently cast as a Russian peasant woman.

            She was born Noyabrina (Nonna) Viktorovna Mordyukova on the 25th of November 1925 into a Cossack family in Konstantinovka settlement, Donetsk province, Ukraine, Soviet Union (now Ukraine). Her father was Viktor Konstantinovich Mordyukov. Her mother was Irina Petrovna Mordyukova. Young Nonna Mordyukova was fond of movies and had a dream of becoming an actress. In the 1930s she moved to Krasnodar province in Southern Russia, where her mother worked as chairwoman of kolkhoz - a collective farm. There Nonna Mordyukova survived the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

            From 1945 to 1950 she studied acting at Soviet State Institute of Cinema (VGIK) under Boris Bibikov and Olga Pyzhova. While studying in Moscow she made her film debut as Ulyana Gromova, the female lead in Molodaya gvardiya (1949), a patriotic movie about children in anti-fascist resistance. Mordyukova became instant celebrity in the Soviet Union and was awarded the State Stalin's Prize for the role. In the following string of movies she became typecast as a peasant woman, and eventually established herself as an epitome of strong willed Russian woman.

            After having two decades of stellar career in Soviet propaganda films, Mordyukova starred as Klavdia Vavilova in Komissar (1967), a Red Army cavalry commissar, who is waylaid by an unexpected pregnancy. She stays with a Jewish family to give birth and is softened somewhat by the experience of family life. Made in 1967, the film was censored for 20 years, and director Aleksandr Askoldov was prosecuted by the Soviet communist party. Only during Mikhail Gorbachev's perestroika and glasnost the film was released to public and won several international awards, such as the Silver Bear at the Berlinale 1988. The reason for the Soviet censorship was strictly political: this is a pro-semitic film based on the story by Vasili Grossman that shows the unofficial view on communist occupation of Ukraine.

            Mordyukova gained much acclaim for the supporting role as Superintendant Barbara Plyushch in Brilliantovaya ruka (1969), the most popular Russian comedy of all time. In it, Mordyukova satirized a typical Soviet-style apartment manager, a woman of small mind, but with a big voice. Her other works of interest include: Prostaya istoriya (1960), Predsedatel (1964), Voyna i mir (1967) by director Sergey Bondarchuk, and Russkoye pole (1973), by director Nikolai Moskalenko, where she co-starred opposite her son, Vladimir Tikhonov.

            During the 70s and 80s, she remained one of the most popular actresses in the Soviet Union. In 1992, she was included in the top ten actresses of the 20th century according to the British Cinema Encyclopedia "Who is who." After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mordyukova had a slowdown in her career. During the last 15 years of her life, she was cast only in three films : Luna Park (1992), Shirli-Myrli, and her last work in Mama (1999). At that time, she wrote the book of memoirs "Ne plach, kazachka" (Don't Cry, Cossack Woman). In the course of her film career that lasted over 50 years, she played over 60 leading and supporting roles in Soviet film and television productions.

            Nonna Mordyukova was designated People's actress of the USSR (1974). She was awarded the State Prizes of the USSR and Russia, and received numerous decorations from the Soviet and Russian governments. She was married to her classmate, actor Vyacheslav Tikhonov and the couple had one son, Vladimir Tikhonov. Nonna Mordyukova died of a hear failure and lung disease on July 6, 2008, in a Moscow hospital, and was laid to rest in Kuntsevskoe cemetery, Moscow, Russia.

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