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Faina Ranevskaya, a woman-legend

(8/27/1896 - 7/19/1984) - Great Russian women

Faina Ranevskaya

Faina Georgievna Ranevskaya was an inborn actress. She is titled a legend of Russian cinema. Ranevskaya was an actress that is best remembered for secondary roles. Sadly, the cinema was fortunate to her only playing character parts. This can be explained by the fact that Bolshakov, the minister of cinematography of those days wrote on his official letter that Semitic features of Faina Ranevskaya were far too vivid, especially on close-ups. Another version why she was not playing leading roles was that the directors were scared that Ranevskaya 's genius presentation would outshine other actors and drive the attention from the film itself. These were the exact words of one of the directors Ranevskaya worked with. She reacted in her usual sarcastic way: "I could play worth if necessary". Ranevskaya did not play a single great role of the world repertory, however her name was included in the ten top actors of the 20th century by the British encyclopaedia.

She was born as Faina Feldman to a wealthy Jewish family in the city of Taganrog. Her passion for theatre began when she was 14. Her attendance of Chekhov's "The Cherry Orchard" at the Moscow Art Theatre was an experience that had great impact on her. The pseudonym "Ranevskaya," which later became her official surname, also originated from that theatre visit.

In 1915 she left Taganrog for Moscow to pursue a career in the theatre. Faina became estranged from her family over her choice of career, which they apparently rejected. She started as an extra actor in crowd or background scenes at the Malakhov Summer Theater near Moscow in 1915. Even though her family emigrated in 1917 Faina decided to stay and continued her acting career, working in the theatres of Kerch, Rostov-on-Don, at the mobile theatre "The First Soviet Theater" in Crimea, also in Baku, Arkhangelsk, Smolensk and other cities.

She acted in plays by Anton Chekhov, Aleksandr Ostrovsky, Maxim Gorky, Ivan Krylov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, and others. Unfortunately, we can judge about her theatre performances only by photos as only three final performances of "Make Way for Tomorrow" by Vina Delmar, "Truth is Good, but Happiness is Better" by Aleksandr Ostrovsky, "The Curious Savage" by John Patrick were filmed. Faina Ranevskaya is more known to a wide audience as a cinema actress by her performance in such films as "Pyshka" ("Boule de Suif"), "The Man in a Shell", "Mechta" ("Dream"), "Vesna" ("Spring"), "Zolushka" ("Cinderella"), "Elephant and String" and many more.

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The most outstanding film Ranevskaya played in was "Mechta" ("Dream") directed by Muchael Romm. American president Franklin Rousvelt called Ranevskaya one of the greatest actresses in the world after seeing the film. Iosif Stalin also appreciated the acting talent of Faina Ranevskaya

The mainstream audience mainly conceives Ranevskaya as a heroine of the film "Podkidysh" ("The Foundling") where she utters her famous phrase: "Mulya do not get on my nerves". The phrase has become a winged expression.

The actress was awarded the USSR State Prizes for outstanding creative achievements on stage in 1949, and in 1951 for her work in the film "U nih est' Rodina" ("They Have Their Motherland"), directed by Vladimir Legoshin and Alexandre Feinzimmer. In 1961 Faina Ravevskaya was awarded the title of the People's Artist of the USSR.

Ranevskaya's wit and humour made her at least as famous as acting talent. She was written after, people hang on her words and were afraid of her as Ranevskaya's sharp comments often sounded as a verdict.

The actress died in 1984 in Moscow and was buried at the Donskoe Cemetery. A memorial plate dedicated to Ranevskaya was placed on her birthhouse in the city of Taganrog on August 29, 1986.


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