September 01, 2000

September and October in History



2 Today is the 65th birthday of the actor Valentin Gaft (1935). A long-time actor at Moscow’s Sovremennik theater, Gaft rose to prominence after starring in the Soviet-era mega-hit TV program, Seventeen Moments of Spring. He played a member of a CIA negotiating team headed by Alan Dulles that was holding secret talks with German intelligence in the spring of 1945. Critics call Gaft’s acting “deadly truthful,” and even his negative heroes have a devilish charm. Interestingly, in the 1970s and 1980s, Gaft’s clever mind and sharp tongue led him to pen epigrams, which earned him many enemies among his fellow actors and directors. In the Soviet era, these epigrams circulated in handwritten copies or by word of mouth. Recently, Gaft published them all in his autobiography. Each, in just a few lines, conveys the essence of a person’s character, exposing their weaknesses and role in Russian theater and cinema. Two are offered here about other figures in this issue’s Calendar. Of the Mikhalkov clan (father Sergei Mikhalkov and his two filmmaker sons, Andron and Nikita, see October 21), Gaft wrote

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