On January 28, Vasily Lanovoy, People's Artist of the USSR and the acclaimed veteran of the Russian theatrical stage and screen, passed away at the age of 87 in a Moscow hospital.
He was a winner of the Lenin Prize, the highest state award for professional achievements, and a Hero of Labor of the Russian Federation.
Lanovoy was also the head of the board of trustees of the Immortal Regiment, a massive civil event held in major cities in Russia and around the world every 9 May during the Victory Day celebrations.
On Junuary 2, Vasily Lanovoy and his wife, actress Irina Kupchenko, were tested for the novel coronavirus. Their test result was positive and they were placed in hospital.
At the moment, Irina Kupchenko said that Vasily Lanovoy felt well and that he had been admitted to the clinic with a 5% lung lesion only in order to avoid possible risks arising from his age.
On January 16, Vasily Lanovoy turned 87 years old.
On his birthday, doctors did not voice any grave concerns over his health condition.
However, he got much worse soon and was transferred to the intensive care unit.
Speaking of Vasily Lanovoy’s death, Nadezhda Babkina, a folk pop singer and producer, called him ‘a legendary artist, a true knight of the Vakhtangov drama theater stage, and an outstanding personality’.
And that was true. During his life, Lanovoy played a variety of roles in more than 80 films, such as ‘Scarlet Sail’s, ‘How Steel Was Tempered’, ‘6 Ogaryov Street’, ‘Start Liquidation’, ‘No Password Required’, ‘Anna Karenina’, ‘Going Inside a Storm’, and others.
Simultaneously, his record at the Vakhtangov Theater where Lanovoy served for 60 years includes more than 60 roles.
A truly nationwide renown came to Vasily Lanovoy after the film ‘The Officers’ (1971) where he played the Soviet officer Ivan Barabbas.
In this film, he projected a strong, courageous, and amazingly honest image, a man for whom an officer's honor was above anything else and who was romantic deep inside at the same time.
Meanwhile, it took director Vladimir Rogovoy quite a long time to persuade Lanovoy to play this part.
Lanovoy just could not imagine how a man could be in love throughout life with the wife of his closest friend.
Rogovoy suggested looking at this role from a slightly different perspective and portraying a romantic hero.
After that, Lanovoy agreed as he had more than once played romantic characters. For example, Gray in Scarlet Sails.
Indeed, deep at heart, Vasily Lanovoy was a true romantic.
His cameo in ‘A Striped Journey’ movie says a lot! This story about the delivery of a pack of tigers purchased abroad for a Soviet zoo had a scene where the tigers escaped from the ship transporting them to Odessa straight into the Black Sea when the coast was already close at hand. The tigers crossed the distance by swimming and emerged out of the water on a beach, catching the crowds of holidaymakers there by surprise. Lanovoy played a sunbathing man relaxing in a chaise longue. His character’s words ‘How nicely they swim! That group in striped bathing suits' over there!” became a catch phrase.
When director Vladimir Fetin offered Lanovoy a part in a small episode, he was surprised.
However, Fetin succeeded in convincing Lanovoy who was already a well-known actor. Fetin then made a reminder to him that quite often it was the cameo appearances that made actors popular.
Afterwards, Vasily Lanovoy never regretted it.
He gave more than 60 years of his life to the Vakhtangov Theater where he invariably reaped applause in more than 60 roles.
There were the famous role of Caesar in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, Leon Trotsky in ‘The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk and, of course, the role of Alexander Pushkin in ‘The Quay’and many others.
In each of them Lanovoy lived on stage so brightly and emotionally that he made the audience take a stroll through history to the time when his characters lived.
Vasily Lanovoy generously shared his talent with young artists.
He was the head of the Department of scenic speech and a professor at the Boris Shchukin Theatrical School.
Charismatic and talented Vasily Lanovoy passed away but will remain in the memory of millions of spectators in Russia and the former Soviet Union who will remember the roles, which he was not just playing but living through on the stage or in film.
After all, in the memory of many, Lanovoy will remain as fearless Pavel Korchagin, extremely honest officer Ivan Barabbas or romantic Gray.