Rina Vasilyevna Zelyonaya (her real first name was Yekaterina) was born in Tashkent on November 7, 1902. She studied in a non-classical secondary school there and then her father Vasily Ivanovich Zelyony was transferred on service from Tashkent to Moscow and Yekaterina join a grammar school.
Her becoming an actress seems to be a coincidence: she was walking along a street in Moscow and saw an announcement: “Selection for a drama school”. Out of 80 applicants only 22 persons were admitted to the school, Yekaterina among them. In 1919 she graduated from the Moscow Theatre School. She started her career as a professional variety singer, but her natural comedy gift and inclination for parody won over.
From the beginning of the Civil War the family moved to Odessa, where the young actress got a job in a local theater. Then YekateRina became Rina: her name was shortened to fit into the theater poster. Some time later Rina Zelyonaya returned to Moscow. She acted on stage of the Moscow Theater “Ne Rydai” and then in the Balaganchik theatre in Petrograd. In 1924-1928 Rina was an actress of the Moscow Satire Theater and in 1928 she became an actress of the Reviews Theatre at the Press House (which was later renamed into Variety and Miniatures Theater). In the 1930s she worked as a variety actress, performing stories about children and worked on radio.
Rina made her film debut in 1931: her first role was that of a girl from Zhigan's gang in the legendary movie Road to Life directed by Nikolay Ekk. Eight years later she co-authored with Agnia Barto a script for the film Foundling. Rina Zelyonaya wrote a few scenes about the chatterbox Arisha whom she played herself. During World War II the actress performed with Arkady Raikin’s front concert crew. In autumn of 1945 she visited Berlin and even undersigned on Reichstag.
The actress gained great popularity thanks to her roles of the Tortila Turtle in Adventures of Buratino and Mrs. Hudson in Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson. Besides, she took part in dubbing of animated films.
She was married to the architect Konstantin Topuridze (the creator of the famous fountains at the All-Russia Exhibition Centre), with whom they lived 40 years together. Rina did not have her own children, but she brought up Topuridze's two sons.
From the late 1980s she lived in the House of Cinema Veterans. The old actress could hardly move due to a hip fracture and was almost blind.
Rina Vasilyevna Zelyonaya died on April 1, 1991 in Moscow.
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