Vladimir Zeldin believed to have been the world’s oldest working actor, has died aged 101, after appearing for 71 years at the same Moscow theatre.
Zeldin became an all-Union celebrity in 1941 starring in the comedy Svinarka i pastukh. His other most famous works as a film actor include Skazanie o zemle sibirskoy (1947), Uchitel’ tantsev (1952), Karnavalnaya noch (1956), Dyadya Vanya(1970) and Desyat negrityat (1987).The Russian actor appeared on stage as recently as last month, using a walking stick due to a broken hip, to appear in the play The Dance Teacher by the Spanish playwright Lope de Vega.
He had appeared in the play more than 1,000 times. The theatre had planned for him to appear again next February, to mark his 102nd birthday.Collageous said that Zeldin had been ill and spent the last three weeks in the hospital. He died in the early hours of Monday morning.He was, as of 2014, the oldest living People’s Artist of the USSR. He turned 101 in 2016.
Zeldin was born in the town of Kozlov which is now known as Michurinsk when Tsar Nicholas II was on the Russian throne. He shot to fame when he appeared in the film They Met in Moscow, on which shooting began shortly before the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941.
When the World war II finished, Zeldin joined Moscow’s Red Army Theatre, where he was part of the troupe from 1945 until his death. The theatre is now known as the Russian Army Theatre. Fellow actors at the theatre described him as full of energy as the very last. Some of his Honours and Awards are as follow’s
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1968, 1980)
- People’s Artist of the USSR (1975)
- People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1959)
- Honoured Artist of the RSFSR
- Gratitude “for outstanding creative achievement in musical theatre” National Festival “Musical Heart of Theatre” (2006)
- Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of culture (2008) – for the play “Man of La Mancha”
- Stalin Prize, 2nd class (1951)
The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, described Zeldin as “a marvellous actor with an extraordinary work ethic and immense creative energy”. He said the actor’s death was a loss for all Russian culture.
Vladimir Zeldin with the Russian presidentVladimir Putin, during an award ceremony
Zeldin’s coffin will be laid out in the the Russian Army Theatre on Thursday before he is buried in Moscow’s prestigious Novodevichy cemetery.