Boris Chirkov was arguably the most popular film celebrity in the 1930s and 1940s Soviet Union, since he starred in the leading role as Maxim in the acclaimed film-trilogy by director Grigori Kozintsev.He was born Boris Petrovich Chirkov, on August 13, 1901, in Losovaya-Pavlovka, Ekaterinoslav province, Russian Empire (now Losovaya, Ukraine). He was the older of two children in the family, his younger sister was named Galina. His mother, named Olga Ignatevna (nee Nebogatikova), was the niece of the Sovie... more
Boris Chirkov was arguably the most popular film celebrity in the 1930s and 1940s Soviet Union, since he starred in the leading role as Maxim in the acclaimed film-trilogy by director Grigori Kozintsev.He was born Boris Petrovich Chirkov, on August 13, 1901, in Losovaya-Pavlovka, Ekaterinoslav province, Russian Empire (now Losovaya, Ukraine). He was the older of two children in the family, his younger sister was named Galina. His mother, named Olga Ignatevna (nee Nebogatikova), was the niece of the Soviet Leader Vyacheslav Molotov. Young Boris Chirkov was brought up in the home of his mother in the town of Nolinsk, Vyatka province, in Nothern Russia. There he started acting at Nolinsk Town Theatre. He was also brought up as a religious Christian, and with his good voice and vocal talent, he was a regular singer with the Boys Choir at Nolinsk Church.In 1919 he graduated from junior college in the town of Nolinsk, then worked as a teacher at Nolinsk secondary school. 1921 he moved to St. Petersburg (then Leningrad). From 1921-1922, he studied engineering at Leningrad Polytechnical Institute for a year, then switched to acting at Institute for Theatrical Arts, graduating as an actor in 1926. His classmates were Nikolai Cherkasov, Glikeriya Bogdanova-Chesnokova, Aleksandr Borisov, Nikolai Simonov, and other notable Russian actors. Chirkov began his professional acting career at the Leningrad Theatre for Young Audience. There his first role was as Sancho Panza opposite Nikolai Cherkasov who played the tallest Don Quixote ever in Russia. Chirkov was very short, and Cherkasov was extremely tall, and both were very talented, so the pair looked hilarious. During the 1920s Chirkov performed in a popular stand-up comic trio with Nikolai Cherkasov and Vladimir Berezov. Comedy and humorous view of life was Chirkov's nature; humor was also his best and the only shield from the grim reality of the controlled life in the Soviet Union under communists.In 1927 Chirkov made his film debut as an actor in a silent film 'Moi syn', then played supporting role as Orsky in a silent film Luna sleva (1928). He had a scene opposite Boris Babochkin in the legendary film Chapayev (1935). Chirkov shot to fame with the leading role as revolutionary leader, Maxim, in the popular film-trilogy by director Grigori Kozintsev, made at Lenfilm Studios in Leningrad, during the 1930s. Everything came together in the film; acting by Boris Chirkov, directing by Kozintsev and Leonid Trauberg and the music by Dmitri Shostakovich. Chirkov's fame as "Maxim" was so big that people from all over Russia would write letters addressed to "Maxim, Leningrad", and he would answer all, because he came from a peasant family and was aware how hard was the life for all simple people in Russia. At that time he was awarded the Stalin's Prize, hardly a match to his tremendous fame and status as a national celebrity. In 1940, during the dictatorship of Joseph Stalin, Chirkov was ordered to leave Leningrad and to move to Moscow, as one of the most popular Russian actors who was turned into a propaganda figure and a "role model" for the Soviet people. He was awarded the second Stalin's Prize for his brilliant performance as composer Mikhail Glinka in the eponymous film. From 1950 - 1965 he was a permanent member of the troupe at Pushkin Drama Theatre in Moscow. There his stage partners were such actors as Faina Ranevskaya, Olga Vikland, Boris Smirnov, Nikolai Petrov, Mikhail Nazvanov, Marina Kuznetsova and other notable Russian actors. From 1966 - 1982 he was a permanent member of the troupe at Gogol Drama Theatre in Moscow. There he shared stage with Viktor Khokhryakov, Emiliya Milton, Aleksei Krasnopolsky, Vladimir Samojlov, and other notable Russian actors. Chirkov was awarded the Order of Lenin three times, more than any political leader in the Soviet Union with the exception of Leonid Brezhnev. His autobiographical book titled "Azorskie ostrova" was dedicated to his mother.Chirkov confessed to his family that he still believed in God, while being obligated to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He refused to be a recipient of a state pension from the Soviet state, quietly mentioning that there were too many people who really needed more help than him. Chirkov survived four heart attacks over the course of his life, but the fifth heart attack that hit him during his high-level visit to Kremlin, in 1982, left him with only a few hours to live. Boris Chirkov had his fifth heart attack during his visit to Kremlin, Moscow, where he was invited for a high-level meeting as the member of the Committee for Lenin's Prize Awards. He was taken by an ambulance to an ER in Moscow, and died of a heart failure just a few hours later on the same day, May 28, 1982. His family had to wait for four days to get a personal permission from Leonid Brezhnev to have a State Funeral for the most decorated film star in the history of Russia; the permission was granted and Chirkov was laid to rest in Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow, Russia.