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 Boris Babochkin

Born:   January 18, 1904
Deceased:   July 17, 1975

Soviet actor and director, teacher, Peoples Artiste of the USSR


Boris Andriyovych Babochkin was born on January 18 (5), 1904 in Saratov.

His gift as an actor manifested at an early age: as a 4-year-old boy he already performed at New Year matinees with his elder brother Vitaly.  After October Revolution at the age of 15 he served in the political department of the 4th army of Eastern front.  This army included Chapaev’s division.  Though Boris never met Chapaev, he was acquainted with similar commanders, and when his time came to star as Chapaev he excellently played his role.

After demobilization Boris passed exams and entered a drama studio, but he did not study long.  Soon the head of the studio gave him a letter of recommendation addressed to V. Nemirovich-Danchenko, and Babochkin left for Moscow in 1920.  But Boris decided to attain everything himself without assistance and entered two drama schools at once, and then chose I.N.Pevtsov’s Young Masters School for training.

Babochkin played at theaters of Moscow, Voronezh, Mogilev and other cities. Within six years he played more than 200 various roles. His vagrant life finished in 1927 with invitation to the Leningrad Satire Theater. Same year he made his film debut.

The role of Chapayev in the Vasilyevs Brothers’ same-name film released in 1934 is considered the apex of his acting career. The film was conferred the Stalin Award in 1941. Babochkin created a vivid and memorable commander’s portrayal, which outshined the real image of Chapayev. In many respects thanks to Babochkin the commander Chapayev became a national favourite and a hero of national folklore and jokes.  From 1937 Babochkin was not only an actor, but also a stage director in the Gorky Bolshoi Drama Theatre and then became its art director. From 1940 he lived in Moscow, where he initially worked in E.Vakhtangov Theatre and then became an actor and a stage director of the Theatre Studio of Film Actor.  In 1949 Babochkin shifted to Maly Theater, and two years later was invited to the Sofia Folk Theater (Bulgaria), where he stages performances:  The Break by Lavrenyov, Summer Residents by M. Gorky, and 33, Leipzig by Kompaneyts and Kronfeld.

Upon return to the USSR in 1952 he became the main stage director of the Moscow Pushkin Theater and in 1955 returned to the Maly Theater.  All this time Boris Babochkin was a lot into filming, acted in films such as Girlfriends, Invincible, The Frontline, Home Fields, etc.

For Sam Boulder's role in the movie Mac-Kinley's Flight (1975) Babochkin posthumously got the State Award of the USSR (in 1977).

Along with his theater and cinema work he taught in the VGIK (All-Union State Institute of Cinema) from 1944 and was its professor from 1966.

The People’s Artiste of the USSR and a holder of several state awards, Babochkin was awarded three Lenin's Orders, Order of the Labour Red Banner and medals.

Boris Babochkin died of a heart attack on July 17, 1975 in Moscow.


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