Arkadiy Isaakovich Raykin (1911?1987), the creator of a whole gallery of unforgettable satirical types and characters, was a living legend of his time and his country. He went down in the history of Russian culture of the 20th century as a great director, scriptwriter, actor, and humorist. Millions of people would laugh and cry, rejoice and grieve together with Raykin's characters, and could recognize his personages in real life. He was the embodiment of their faith in justice, truth and kindness. The personality, gift and charm of Raykin magnetically drew talented people around him.
Arkadiy Raykin was born on October 24, 1911 in Riga (the capital of Latvian Republic). As a schoolboy already he took a great interest in theatre and attended a drama circle.
Regardless of the will of his parents Arkadiy entered the Leningrad Theatre College from which he graduated in 1935. The young actor was assigned to the Leningrad TRAM (Theatre of Working Youth) which was soon renamed into the Theatre of Lenin`s Komsomol (now the famous LENKOM Theatre). While playing in the theater he was also into filming of "Fiery Years" and "Doctor Kalyuzhny", both of them released in 1938. The actor became widely recognized in Moscow in November 1939 ? he became laureate of the 1st All-Union Competition of Variety Artistes with his turns "Chaplin" and "Mishka".
In the same 1939 Arkadiy Isaakovich was employed by the Leningrad Theatre of Variety and Miniatures to become the art director of this theatre for three years. During the Great Patriotic War Arkadiy Raykin gave lots of performances at the front.
Though Raykin did not fit well into cinematography, the viewers admired his acting in the satirical movie "My gde-to Vstrechalis" (We?ve met somewhere) (directed by Andrei Tutyshkin and Nikolai Dostal) released in 1954.
Some of the brilliant satirical and lyrical images created by Raykin acquired their second life in the serial TV film "Lyudi i Manekeny" (People and Mannequins). The film directed by Arkadiy Raykin and based on his own scenario was released as far back as 1974 but it is not less impressive and meaningful today.
Arkadiy Raykin was the art director of the Theatre of Miniatures renamed into SATIRIKON Theatre in 1991 (today the theatre is directed by his son Konstantin Raykin).
In his books of memoirs Raykin writes: "Recalling the past I certainly do not dare to judge one of the most complicated and dark figures of our history (Stalin). The bisquit-and-stick policy, fear and personal devotion constituted the basis of his relations with those cogs in the machine we all were in those days. N. P. Akimov (in the late 40s he staged and decorated our performances) would say to me not once in his peculiar ironical manner: ?Are we, Arkadiy, such crap, that we are still not imprisoned?? We were lucky; the dreadful lot passed us by. However the system engrafted by Stalin went on functioning even after his death. People brought up by this system went on acting and they managed to drive me up the wall in many different ways. Constant struggling with them took much of health and strength."
In December 1987 Raykin passed away. This was the end of the whole chapter in the history of his theatre and the history of scenic art in general.