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Demidov, Smolensk province, USSR now Russia
Place of Death
Cause of Death
Claim to Fame
Various roles in Leonid Gaidai`s comedies
Profile Bio Text
Yuri Nikulin was a Russian film actor, comedian, mime, and circus clown who was also Artistic Director of Moscow Circus and popular TV show host.
He was born Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin on December 18, 1921, in the town of Demidov, Smolensk province, Central Russia. His father, Vladimir Andreevich Nikulin, was a writer and director who worked for theater and circus. Yuri Nikulin inherited his fathers talents and had a dream of becoming an actor. The Second World War changed his plans as he was drafted in the Soviet Army in 1939 and served in an air defense unit during two wars (Winter War against Finland and WWII) until 1946. He could not pass the entry exams in any Soviet acting school, but he was more lucky with Moscow Circus. There he was admitted after presenting a pantomime as a clown. He graduated from the Circus School in 1950, and started his acting career as a clown at the Moscow State Circus.
Yuri Nikulin became best known for his roles in the comedies from director Leonid Gaidai. Their collaboration from 1961 to 1971 was one of the most productive actor-director partnerships in the history of Russian film. Their comedies were the highest-grossing box office hits ever in Russia and the former Soviet Union with the admissions of 222,800,000 in the first 15 months. Brilliantovaya ruka (1968) was the #1 top grossing Russian box office hit ever with theatrical admissions over 76,700,000 in the Soviet Union in 1969. In a 1995 national poll in Russia, Brilliantovaya ruka (1968), starring Yuri Nikulin was voted the best Russian comedy ever.
Nikulin`s effortless style and precise delivery, as well as his mastery of timing and his hilarious masks made him an outstanding comedian, arguably the best Russian comedian ever. Nikulin showed his range in a variety of genres from slapstick comedy to romance and war drama. His most popular film partners were Georgiy Vitsin, Yevgeni Morgunov, Natalya Varley, Rolan Bykov, Anatoli Papanov, Sergei Filippov, Mikhail Pugovkin, Aleksandr Demyanenko, Leonid Kuravlyov, Andrei Mironov, Evgeni Evstigneev, Vasili Shukshin, Vyacheslav Tikhonov, Sergei Bondarchuk, Nikolay Burlyaev, Viktor Pavlov, Boris Novikov, Vladimir Etush, Saveli Kramarov, Nikolai Grinko, and many other notable Russian actors.
Yuri Nikulin received popular and critical acclaim for his leading and supporting roles in such films as `Andrei Rublev` (1961) by director Andrei Tarkovsky, Oni srazhalis za rodinu (1975) by director Sergei Bondarchuk, `Stariki-razboyniki` (1971) by director Eldar Ryazanov, `Chuchelo` (1983) by director Rolan Bykov, `Kogda derevya byli bolshimi` (1961) by director Lev Kulidzhanov, `12 stulev` by director Leonid Gaidai, `Dvadtsat dney bez voiny` (1976) by director Aleksei German, and many other memorable works in film. Nikulin`s recording of the theme song from Brilliantovaya ruka (1968), especially his delivery of such lines as "We care less" and "We are fearless" made it a popular hit in the 60s and 70s Soviet Union. Yuri was a passionate collector of funny stories and jokes. In the 1990s Nikulin hosted `Bely Popugai` (aka.. White Parrot), a TV show where he gathered the elite of Russian comedians interexchanging anecdotes and jokes. The Moscow State Circus on Tsvetnoi Bulevard was the main workplace for Yuri Nikulin, where he had a career spanning about 50 years. He was awarded the honorable title of the National Artist and received numerous decorations for his achievements as an actor. Yuri Nikulin died after an open heart surgery, on August 21, 1997, in Moscow, and was laid to rest in the Novodevichy Monastery Cemetery, among the tombs of Anton Chekhov, Mikhail A. Bulgakov, Nikolai Gogol, Nikita Khrushchev, Sergei Bondarchuk, Anatoli Papanov, and other Russian culture luminaries and historic figures.
Full Name at Birth
Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin
Soviet and Russian actor and clown
Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin (Russian: Юрий Владимирович Никулин; 18 December 1921 – 21 August 1997) was a well-known Soviet and Russian actor and clown who starred in many popular films.
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