Anatoli Papanov (1922-1987) was an actor of unique gift. With equal elegance he coped with quite different roles, like the comic one of Lyolik in "The Diamond Arm" (1968) and dramatic one of the General Serpilin in "The Alive and the Dead" (1964). His characters were fated to become favourites of the public, while their phrases turned winged. He was kindred to everyone.
Anatoli Dmitrievich Papanov was born in October 1922 in Vyazma city, into the family of common workers. In the 1930s the family moved to Moscow and the boy started attending a school drama circle, which won him over, averting from bad influence of the street. After finishing school he worked as a caster at a factory, at the same time participating in the drama studio at the factory club. Then the war started and he went to the front.
The beginning of war was just hell for the Soviet forces. "Is it possible to forget how after two and a half hours of fight only thirteen people were left alive out of forty two?" ? Anatoli Papanov recalled later.
In the beginning of 1942 Anatoli Papanov was badly wounded, spent half a year in hospital and was invalided to the reserve. He returned to Moscow and firmly decided to become an actor. As a student of GITIS (State Institute of Theatre Arts) he met his future wife, his fellow student Nadezhda Karatayeva, who had also seen war, being a nurse in a hospital train. They got married ten days after the end of war, on May 20, 1945.
After graduation Anatoli Papanov was invited to three Moscow stages at once, but his wife was assigned to the Russian Drama Theatre of Klaipeda and so Papanov moved to Lithuania together with her. They worked there for one season only and in 1948 returned to Moscow, to the Satire Theatre, where the actor played for the rest of his life. "I am a man of one love: one woman, one theatre" ? he used to say about himself.
During the first few years Papanov had no big or remarkable roles in the Satire Theater. His film debut, a small role in the biopic "Kompozitor Glinka" (The Composer Glinka) (1952) also passed unnoticed. It was not until 1954 that the actor got real work in the theatre, a role in the stage play "A Fairy's Kiss".
Soon he became one of the brightest novices in his theatre. The fame on stage brought about the attention of film directors to the actor as well. Eldar Ryazanov was the first of those who offered Anatoli Papanov interesting work in cinema. These were two roles at once: a modern old fox of a scientist and the leader of a "snow men" tribe, in the eccentric comedy "Chelovek niotkuda" (The Man from Nowhere) (1961).
The actor endowed with inimitable sense of humor was heartily welcomed to cinema circles; in the 1960s he worked much in quite various film roles and genres, namely, the psychological drama "Nash dom" (Our House) (1965), the story about scientists "Idu na grozu" (Going Inside a Storm) (1965), the lyrical comedies "Prikhodite zavtra" (Come Tomorrow) (1963) and "Deti Don-Kikhot"a (Don Quixote`s Children) (1965), the satirical comedy "Dayte zhalobnuyu knigu" (Give Me a Complaints Book) (1964), and the presently cult comedies "Beregis avtomobilya" (Beware of the Car) (1966) and "Brilliantovaya ruka" (The Diamond Arm) (1968).
Quite outstanding and separate from this list is the film "Zhivye i myortvye" (The Alive and the Dead) (1964), in which Anatoli Papanov convincingly proved he had the faculty of playing not only comedy and genre characters, but tragic roles as well.
Still more popular the actor became thanks to voicing animated cartoon films, in particular, the legendary series" Nu, pogodi!", in which the favourite character Wolf for many years talked with his voice.
The year 1970 saw the release of the brilliant "Belorusskiy vokzal" (Byelorussia Station) once again showing Papanov`s gift for dramatic roles. With equal pleasure and talent he played both in comedies, such as "Odinozhdy odin" (One Once) (1974), "Pena" (Foam) (1979), "Inkognito iz Peterburga" (Incognito from St.Petersburg) (1977), "12 stulyev" (Twelve Chairs) (1977) and in dramas: "Plokhoy khoroshiy chelovek" (A Bad Good Man) (1973), "V gorode S." (In the Town of S) (1966), "Inzhener Graftio" (Engineer Graftio) (1979), "Vremya zhelaniy" (Time of Desires) (1984), and others.
In summer 1987 Anatoli Papanov was again in filming, playing in "Kholodnoe leto 53" (Cold Summer of 1953), one of the first post-perestroika films about Stalinist reprisals. It turned to be his last film.
On August 5, 1987 there happened to be no hot water in the actor`s flat. When taking ice-cold shower, he had a heart-attack. There was no one else at home...
Anatoli Dmitrievich Papanov was laid to rest at Novodevichye Cemetery.