“Geniuses and lumps are leaving”: Vladimir Menshov, Alexander Gradsky and other greats who were taken from us in 2021

Vasily Lanovoy lived a long life. Photo by ITAR-TASS / Zurab Javakhadze

2021 was another year of great losses from the coronavirus, including the year of farewell to outstanding artists, on whose films, songs and programs several generations grew up. Some call them blocks of national culture, others – titans, still others – geniuses, and some call them all epithets at once. But whatever you call it, these people are united by the main thing: they did not slip into cheap fashion, did not flirt with an undemanding audience. And as if in amber, a wonderful era has frozen in them, which now can only be remembered.


January 16, 1934 – January 28, 2021

Captain Gray from “Scarlet Sails”, Vronsky from “Anna Karenina”, Wolf from “Seventeen Moments of Spring” … A wonderful actor who was considered one of the main aristocrats and an exemplary officer of Soviet cinema, died of coronavirus in a few days after his 87th day birth. He met him at the hospital: Vasily Semenovich was hospitalized in the early days of the New Year. For almost a month, the artist struggled with the virus, but on the last day his condition deteriorated sharply: resuscitation, mechanical ventilation, clinical death …

Lanovoy devoted almost his entire life to the Vakhtangov Theater, where he served for six decades. He skillfully combined the stage with the cinema: the actor has more than 120 roles. Handsome, with noble features – all the women of the country seemed to be in love with the People’s Artist of the USSR. Previously, Vasily Semyonovich was angry when he was called the sex symbol of Russian cinema, but in recent years he only joked: “So women have good taste!”


July 8, 1938 – February 18, 2021

To become a national favorite forever, Andrei Myagkov only had two roles – Zhenya Lukashin in The Irony of Fate and Novoseltsev in The Office Romance. However, these hits were just an episode in the artist’s big filmography: Myagkov played Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov, Lenin in the film Nadezhda, then he almost died on the set of Cruel Romance in a scene on the water … detective genre: on the eve of his 70th birthday, Andrei Vasilyevich decided to become a writer. In 2007, his detective novel “Gray Gelding” was released, based on which the series of the same name was filmed.

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The artist’s departure was sudden. At night he lost consciousness and died in the arms of his wife Anastasia Voznesenskaya. The cause of death was acute heart failure.

To become a people's favorite forever, Andrei Myagkov only had two roles

To become a people’s favorite forever, Andrei Myagkov only had two roles



October 6, 1946 – February 22, 2021

The popularity of radio operator Kat from the cult tape “Seventeen Moments of Spring” turned out to be so huge that Gradova overshadowed even her star husband Andrei Mironov. Then no one could have imagined that this triumph was actually the beginning of the end: just two years later, in 1975, the family broke up, and six years later Ekaterina Gradova played the last role – the spectacular blonde Svetlana Petrovna Volokushina, the girlfriend of the thief in law Ruchechnik in the film “The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed”. Due to a serious and mysterious illness, she said goodbye to the acting profession forever.

Ekaterina Gradova

Ekaterina Gradova

Despite a number of chronic ailments that Ekaterina Georgievna suffered from, her death was sudden and unexpected. On the morning of February 22, the artist was hospitalized with a stroke. Trying to save Gradova, the doctors began an operation, but the heart of the famous patient could not stand it.


September 17, 1939 – July 5, 2021

For the glory of the Oscar-winning director, who went down in history with the film “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” the fact that by his basic education Vladimir Menshov was an actor somehow faded: he has one and a half hundred different works in his piggy bank. And from the cult melodrama, which brought him a golden statuette, Menshov at first did not feel enthusiasm: he made edits to the script, for a long time could not find an actress for the main role and approved his wife Vera Alentova only when all the other applicants were eliminated.

An insidious virus killed an 81-year-old actor and director in just 13 days

An insidious virus killed an 81-year-old actor and director in just 13 days

Photo: Ivan MAKEEV

From the ill-fated “crown” Vladimir Valentinovich was going to be vaccinated, but due to serious contraindications, vaccination had to be postponed. The fact that since June 22, the artist has been in the hospital with a confirmed analysis for Covid-19, it became known only a few days later, when Menshov did not appear at the planned event. An insidious virus killed the 81-year-old actor and director in just 13 days.


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September 14, 1932 – October 30, 2021

The renowned Soviet television announcer, whose recognizable deep baritone has become the symbol of the Vremya program, spent the last months of his life in the hospital. Due to blood clots, 89-year-old Igor Leonidovich had to amputate his leg, and he bravely survived this blow: he called up with his relatives via video link, asked them to bring cologne to his ward, made plans for his 90th birthday … But when the artist was already on the mend and was preparing for discharge, pacing in a walker, his weakened body was struck down by the coronavirus …

Central TV announcer Igor Kirillov, November 1965.  Photo: Valery Gende-Rote / TASS

Central TV announcer Igor Kirillov, November 1965. Photo: Valery Gende-Rote / TASS

Everybody knew the voice of the No.1 announcer in the USSR: Igor Kirillov had been broadcasting the main news of the Union for more than 40 years. It was he who announced Yuri Gagarin’s space flight, broadcasted parades on Red Square, Blue Lights and Song of the Year … “I think the most important thing in the profession of an announcer, a presenter is to gain the confidence of the audience,” Kirillov said … But the artist suppressed compliments from colleagues in every possible way. “I am not a master! – he declared. – I – meter eighty three!”.


November 3, 1949 – November 28, 2021

Not only the closest knew that the “Voice” mentor was melting before our eyes. Yes, much remained hidden from the viewers: they did not see that the artist was brought to the shooting in bed; that without outside help he can no longer walk … But even on the other side of the screen it was noticeable: the singer was gasping for breath, he spoke with shortness of breath, he hadn’t laugh for a long time, but only smiled for a long time. They say that the whole world was discouraged from filming the weakened after kovid Alexander Borisovich, but, apparently, he wanted to spend his last days just like that: with a full hall, in the light of spotlights and surrounded by talents. The singer died in the hospital, where he was taken directly from the Mosfilm pavilion: he was killed by a stroke and the ensuing heart attack.

However, the star of “Voice” Alexander Gradsky was perhaps for the generation of buzzers. From a young age, he himself, without false modesty, called himself a genius, and few could argue with this. Having headed the rock movement back in the Soviet years, Gradsky survived it and remained forever in the history of Russian music as an outstanding composer and performer. Alexander Borisovich said that once Leshchenko said to him: “It’s good, Sanyochek, that you are not shown much on TV. If you were shown a lot, we would all have to shoot ourselves …”


September 4, 1929 – December 3, 2021

The ancestor of the dynasty of famous artists (son Andrei Urgant, grandson Ivan Urgant) lived a long life filled with bright events and roles. She began filming at 25, but she woke up really famous only 16 years later – after the release of the film “Belorusskiy Vokzal”. The scene in which the former nurse Raya sings with a guitar Okudzhava’s song about “our tenth airborne battalion” – this is how most of the audience remembered Nina Urgant.

Recently, Nina Urgant suffered from Parkinson's disease, which confined her to the bed.

Recently, Nina Urgant suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which confined her to the bed.

More than anyone in the world, Nina Nikolaevna loved her grandson, whom she called exclusively Vanyata. He himself did not know why. “Not her husbands, not her few friends, namely me. She is almost 50, I was just born … But she chose and began to love,” the TV presenter admitted touchingly. Recently, Nina Urgant suffered from Parkinson’s disease, which confined her to the bed. Ivan called his beloved grandmother every day, and when he was in St. Petersburg, he certainly came to visit. Undoubtedly, this concern extended the artist’s life.


Who left us in 2021

We remember famous people who were lost in the past year (details)




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