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 Saveli Kramarov

Born:   13 October 1934
Deceased:   6 June 1995

Popular comic actor


Saveli Kramarov was born on 13 October 1934 in Moscow. His father, an eminent lawyer, was arrested by NKVD soon after Saveli’s birth. After some time he was dismissed, but in 1937 was taken back forever. The boy’s mother also died soon after that, so he was raised by his uncle.

After finishing school Saveli wanted to enter a theatre institute, but was not admitted. Then he entered the Forestry Engineering Institute. While studying there he also attended a theatre studio.

Having graduated in 1958 he worked as a young specialist for some time. But soon he decided to quit his job and dedicate himself to cinema: he sent a few of his photos to various film studios around the country. One of them was answered. This is how Saveli Kramarov got his debut film role, that of Soldier Petkin in They Were Nineteen (Im bylo devyatnadtsat) (1960).

In 1967 he was invited to play in the Theatre of Miniatures. His first onstage work was in the play after Vasily Shukshin’s story Vanya, how are you here?, which was part of the production With a Hidden Camera. However, Saveli Kramarov did not stick to the theatre.

Instead, he played a lot in films and in the early 1970s became one of the most popular soviet comedy actors.

In 1972 Saveli finally entered the State Theatre Art Institute, but after graduation never settled in any of the soviet theatres.

Parallel to his studies in the Theatre Institute Saveli seriously took to Indian yoga (which was not so widespread in the Soviet Union). First he practiced on his own, and then found some circle, which KGB got interested in. At the same time Saveli’s uncle decided to immigrate to Israel. As a result Saveli Kramarov turned into “a man with suspicious relations”. The attitude of Goskino authorities to him changed drastically. The actor started considering a possibility of his emigration, but they did not want to let him leave the country – in that case all the films featuring him (i.e. over forty popular movies) would have to be “laid on the shelf”. So Kramarov could neither go abroad nor get any roles in this country. Finally, in 1981 he and Alexander Levenbuk wrote “A Letter to the USA President Reagan” openly complaining about their lot. The letter was several times broadcast over the Voice of America.

Kramarov’s departure from the USSR happened on 31 October 1981. In Vienne he was met by the well-known Impresario Victor Schulman. He organized Kramarov’s European tours, which were quite successful. They were followed by his tours in America, Australia, Israel, and Japan, as well as some small roles in movies, TV shows and commercials.

By American standards he lived rather a modest life, yet, as a member of the Actors’ Guild he always had enough to live on.

Kramarov managed to visit Russian again only in 1992, as a guest of honour at the Kinotavr Film Festival.

In the early 1995 Saveli Kramarov was doing quite well – he finally got a lead in a new American movie. But in March 1995 he had to undergo an operation on eradication of tumor on the large intestine. The operation was not complicated, yet a complication occurred, followed by thrombosis and then a stroke. After the second stroke he never got up.

Saveli Kramarov died on 6 June 1995. The actor was buried at a cemetery near San Francisco.

On 12 October 1997 his monument created by Mihail Chemiakin and Vyacheslav Bukhaev was set up on Kramarov’s grave.


Tags: Russian cinema Russian actors    

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