Lyudmila Gurchenko
Lyudmila Markovna Gurchenko was a popular Soviet and Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n actress, singer and entertainer.


Lyudmila was born in Kharkiv
Kharkiv or Kharkov is the second-largest city in Ukraine.The city was founded in 1654 and was a major centre of Ukrainian culture in the Russian Empire. Kharkiv became the first city in Ukraine where the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was proclaimed in December 1917 and Soviet government was...

, Ukrainian SSR
Ukrainian SSR
The Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic or in short, the Ukrainian SSR was a sovereign Soviet Socialist state and one of the fifteen constituent republics of the Soviet Union lasting from its inception in 1922 to the breakup in 1991...

 in 1935 to Mark Gavrilovich Gurchenko (1898–1973) and Yelena Aleksandrovna Simonova-Gurchenko (1917–1999). Before the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 they lived in a single room apartment on a ground floor at Mordvynivsky provulok #17. At that time her parents worked at Kharkiv Region Philharmony
Kharkiv Philharmonic Society
- Kharkiv Philharmonic, Ukraine :The House of the Philharmonic is connected with the oldest concert organization in Ukraine and is a well-known landmark and cultural centre...

. Mark Gurchenko was known to play on bayan
Bayan (accordion)
The bayan is a type of chromatic button accordion developed in Russia in the early 20th century and named after 11th-century bard Boyan.-Characteristics:The bayan differs from western chromatic button accordions in some details of construction:...

 (Russian accordion
The accordion is a box-shaped musical instrument of the bellows-driven free-reed aerophone family, sometimes referred to as a squeezebox. A person who plays the accordion is called an accordionist....

). Part of her childhood Lyudmila with her mom spent under the German occupation of Ukraine in native city, while her father joined the army and together with his concert brigade came through the whole war. After the liberation of Kharkiv Lyudmila took an introductory test to the local Beethoven Music School where she performed a "song with gestures" About Vitya Cherevichkin. Thanks to that she was accepted as a "future actress".

She moved to Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 enrolling into the Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography
Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography
The Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography All-Russian State University of Cinematography named after S. A. Gerasimov), VGIK for short, is a film school in Moscow, Russia.-History:...

. At 21 after starring in young Eldar Ryazanov's
Eldar Ryazanov
Eldar Aleksandrovich Ryazanov is a Soviet/Russian film director whose comedies, satirizing the daily life of the country, are very famous throughout the former Soviet Union....

 1956 directorial debut, musical Carnival Night
Carnival Night
The Carnival Night is a 1956 Soviet musical film. It is Eldar Ryazanov's first big-screen film, Lyudmila Gurchenko's first role and also one of the most famous films starring popular comedian Igor Ilyinsky.The film became the Soviet box office leader of 1956 with a total of 48.64 million tickets...

, Gurchenko overnight achieved the fame as well as the celebrity
A celebrity, also referred to as a celeb in popular culture, is a person who has a prominent profile and commands a great degree of public fascination and influence in day-to-day media...

 status. The film was enormously popular and made her famous overnight. Throughout the next two years she toured the entire country with her Carnival Night-inspired musical numbers, attracting crowds of fans.

The Soviet cultural establishment, however, deemed her style too western and too out of line with Soviet standards. She was accused of receiving above State-set wages as compensation for her shows. She became the target of highly critical articles in several influential Soviet periodicals, including Tap dance to the left (Чечетка налево, Komsomolskaya Pravda
Komsomolskaya Pravda
Komsomolskaya Pravda is a daily Russian tabloid newspaper, founded on March 13th, 1925. It is published by "Izdatelsky Dom Komsomolskaya Pravda" .- History :...

, 1957, and Dositheos morals (Досифеевские нравы, Ogonyok
Ogoniok is one of the oldest weekly illustrated magazines in Russia, issued since . It was re-established in the Soviet Union in 1923 by Mikhail Koltsov....

, 1958,, devoted to her financial wrong-doing and her alleged lack of patriotism. The year of 1958 saw the release of another musical with Lyudmila, A Girl with a Guitar (Devushka s Gitaroi), shot mostly before these articles were published. The musical was not recommended for a wide distribution and was a box-office flop.

This branded Gurchenko as a one-hit wonder, not worthy of serious movie roles. According to the customs of the time, such branding effectively meant banning Her involvement in cinema and theater for several years. For the next two decades she struggled to get leading roles in new movies, while making a living by travelling all over the country with her stand-up acts and musical numbers.

In the mid 1970s Gurchenko starred in several films, which, although only moderately successful, helped showcase her dramatic talent. In 1979 she landed a role in director Andrei Konchalovsky
Andrei Konchalovsky
Andrei Mikhalkov-Konchalovsky is a Soviet-American and Russian film director, film producer and screenwriter....

's Siberiade
Siberiade is a 1979 epic Soviet film in four parts, spanning much of the 20th century. The leading roles were played by the celebrated Soviet actors Nikita Mikhalkov and Lyudmila Gurchenko...

and in 1982 in Station for Two, once again by Eldar Ryazanov, who by then had become one of USSR's most popular and prolific directors. The role of the forty-something waitress Vera in this touching film became her long-awaited comeback as a superstar
A superstar is a widely acclaimed celebrity.Superstar or superstars may also refer to:-People:* Warhol Superstar, associates of Andy Warhol* WWE Superstar, the term used to refer to entertainers from the WWE...

 of Soviet film. Subsequently, she starred in several more movies and TV shows. Her multifaceted talent was recognized on many occasions. She received the title of People's Artist of the USSR
People's Artist of the USSR
People's Artist of the USSR, also sometimes translated as National Artist of the USSR, was an honorary title granted to citizens of the Soviet Union.- Nomenclature and significance :...

, the highest honour that could be bestowed to a musical artist, in 1983.

In 2010, she was awarded the 2nd Class Order of Merit for the Fatherland
Order of Merit for the Fatherland
The Order of Merit for the Fatherland was instituted on 2 March 1994 by Presidential Decree. The statutes describe it as a decoration for merit, not an order of knights....

 (she received the 4th Class of the same Order in 2000 and the 3d Class in 2005) , one of the highest civil decorations in post-Soviet Russia (with 3rd and 2nd Degree Orders having been awarded to very few extremely distinguished individuals, and the 1st Degree Order being nominally held by a serving President of Russia). At the age of 70, she still performed, and was frequently seen attending galas.

Personal life

Gurchenko was married five times, including a short-lived marriage to Iosif Kobzon in 1969. She had one daughter, Maria (born 1959) from her first marriage, and two grandchildren as well as one great-granddaughter.

On 14 February 2011, Gurchenko fell near her house and broke her hip. She was taken to the hospital and underwent an operation the following day. On 30 March, her condition worsened – either due to the operation or a heart failure – and she died that evening. She was buried at the Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery
Novodevichy Cemetery is the most famous cemetery in Moscow, Russia. It is next to the 16th-century Novodevichy Convent, which is the city's third most popular tourist site. It should not be confused with the Novodevichy Cemetery in Saint Petersburg....

Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

) after a civil funeral a few days later.

External links

Official site of Lyudmila Gurchenko
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