Mark Zakharov, the renowned head of Moscow’s Lenkom Theater known for directing romantic Soviet-era parables, has died at 85 after a long bout with pneumonia.
Zakharov is best known for Soviet classics of the 1970s and 1980s, including a mini-series adaptation of Ilf and Petrov’s 12 Chairs. Though he is not well known outside Russia, his films To Kill a Dragon, An Ordinary Miracle and Formula of Love – all made for TV – turned him into a national icon; lines from his films regularly turn up in everyday conversation. Meanwhile Lenkom, which he led starting in 1973, is considered one of the capital’s finest theaters.
Zakharov’s family history was not conducive to success in the Soviet state: both of his grandfathers were officers in the Tsarist army, and one of them even fought in the army of Alexander Kolchak, who led the White movement battling the Bolsheviks (see Chronicle, page 22). His interest in the dramatic arts began with a love for puppet theater, and he entered the GITIS drama school after failing to enter military school and an architecture institute.
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