Exactly 35 years ago Arkady Raikin died in Moscow

“I stayed in art for a long time – from the time when satire was scolded, and until the time when they began to scold it again,” said Arkady Raikin, and this was not a joke.

He began by delighting Meyerhold, who invited him to his theater. It did not work – Meyerhold was arrested. Stalin also invited him, but even here the romance did not work out. He always walked on the edge of the very razor, which could just about turn into a guillotine. Great composure was required in order to preserve both impudent wit, quivering intelligence, and conscience for 52 years on the stage.

Ranevskaya considered him the best comedian of the 20th century. Why? Here Ranevskaya recalled a completely not funny episode. On April 24, 1967, cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov died. The authorities have not declared mourning or canceled entertainment events. In the evening, at the Leningrad Variety and Miniature Theater, where Arkady Raikin had been artistic director since the early 1940s, another evening of laughter was to take place. As always, the hall was packed. However, after the third call, Raikin appeared in front of the audience in a strict suit, without makeup and said that the astronaut had died, and it was blasphemy to laugh on such a day: “In two days the theater has a day off, come with these tickets, and we will play for you.”

An unknown rat was found in the hall, who immediately called the city committee of the party and reported on Raikin’s “flagrant arbitrariness”. Then they told the theater that the city committee listened to the caller and answered: “Thank God, there was at least one person who had the courage to honor the hero,” and they hung up.

“He seemed to be constantly playing along with himself,” recalled humorist Mikhail Mishin. – If he got tired, it was not just a tired person in front of you, no, you had a picture of “Fatigue” in front of you. If he was angry, it was some kind of absolute indignation. When he was sad… Oh, you saw Sadness itself, sadly sad with its inexpressibly sad eyes. He was neither an angel nor an image of morality. He was jealous, capricious, vengeful, amorous, suggestible. But he was Raikin – everyone forgave him for that.

“The Party teaches us that gases expand when heated” – when this phrase was first heard from the stage, the audience sobbed with laughter. It was part of the monologue of the nomenklatura chief Pantyukhov from the play “Magicians Live Nearby”, which appeared in the repertoire of the theater of miniatures in 1964. “I realized early – why should I study when I can teach others? – Pantyukhov-Raikin informed the audience. – All my life I liked non-specific specialties – an authorized person, an instructor, a cultural worker. I also worked on the perfume front, released a perfume called “Here the soldiers are coming”; then I was thrown into biology, where I wrote an article “Genetics is the corrupt girl of imperialism”; read a report at the seminar: “Every year our weak currents become stronger and stronger.”

The performance about the “wizards” formed the basis of a large documentary film about Raikin directed by Vasily Katanyan. In the 1950s, both Raikin and Katanyan would have sat down for this, but then the director was only called to the head of cinematography, a certain Romanov. Romanov immediately announced that Pantyukhov’s text had not been worked out and should be shortened. Katanyan offered to watch the film with Raikin. Romanov agreed. Raikin, who had come to Moscow on purpose, humbly expressed his readiness for anything. Remove a couple of phrases? – Of course. A couple more? – Please. Katanyan did not understand what was happening. Then he recalled: “In the wardrobe, while getting dressed, Arkady Isaakovich remarked: “I always throw bones to the wolves in order to save life.” And already in the car: “They will never see the picture again. Therefore, I beg you, leave all the phrases.” Which is what was done.”

He shamelessly used his gift of reincarnation. The same Mishin tells how one day at midnight Raikin called him and sadly asked him to come. At home, he mournfully announced that the next performance would be his last, and he, Raikin, asked Mishin for the last favor – to write an introductory word for this last performance in his life. Mishin could hardly hold back his tears and vowed that this word would be the best text in his life. When, a week later, Mishin learned that Raikin had ordered introductory words for two more authors in the same way, it was already too late. All three texts were written. All three were of excellent quality. As a result, Raikin himself wrote everything that was needed, borrowing several phrases from three texts. None of the authors took offense at him. It’s Raikin! Only he could afford this.

But one day Raikin had to play his last performance. As a teenager, he suffered a severe sore throat, which gave complications to the heart. Since then, Raikin was tormented by rheumatic heart disease. He always carried a suitcase full of medicines with him. In 1970, he was overtaken by a heart attack, after which Raikin’s health began to deteriorate. Juna herself treated him. She came to the theater during his performances and during the intermissions she gave the artist 15-minute sessions. This helped a little, but by the early 1980s, Raikin was getting worse. The historian Fyodor Razzakov in those years accidentally met Arkady Isaakovich in a rest home. “Weakness, helplessness, slowness of all reactions…” is how he described Raikin. The man raised his spoon with difficulty. With difficulty, he wielded a fork … The door lock was an insurmountable obstacle for him … ”Razzakov did not understand how a person in such a state could perform. But, having got to Raikin’s performance, he was amazed: “Raikin did not come out, he literally took off on the stage. Light, elegant, perfectly in control of his body … The voice sounds perky, even cocky … The eyes shine … No weakness … No illness … The auditorium unanimously reacts to every remark of their favorite … Laughter and applause … “

In the last year of his life, being in a state of almost complete helplessness, Raikin went on tour to America! There he caught a cold, but managed to finish the tour. Returning home, he landed in the hospital, from which he never left. On December 17, 1987, the great artist died. For three days the press was silent, waiting for an obituary from “the party and the government.” But the party perfectly remembered everything about the gases and preferred to remain silent.

Photo: Anatoly Garanin / MIA “Russia Today”

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