Raikin, Arkady Isaakovich

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(19111987), stage entertainer, director, film actor.

Arkady Raikin ranks as one of the most popular and acclaimed stage entertainers of the Soviet era. He was particularly well known for his uncanny ability to alter his appearance through the use of makeup, and his witty, satirical monologues and oneman sketches endeared him to several generations of fans. As a young man Raikin worked for a short time as a lab assistant in a chemical factory, but his real passion was acting. He enrolled in the Leningrad Theater Institute, and upon his graduation in 1935 he found employment with the Leningrad Theater of Working-Class Youth (TRAM). He also found his way into the movies, and in 1938 he starred in The Fiery Years and Doctor Kaliuzhnyi. He also appeared in films later in his life and wrote and directed the 1974 television film People and Mannequins.

But Raikin devoted the bulk of his creative energies to entertaining on the stage. In 1939 he joined the prestigious Leningrad Theater of Stage Entertainment and Short Plays (Leningradsky teatr estrady i miniatyur), and in 1942 he became artistic director of the theater. He remained affiliated with this theater for the remainder of his career, even after it moved to Moscow in 1982, where it was renamed the State Theater of Short Plays. Raikin also found success as master of ceremonies for stage shows that allowed him to entertain audiences.

His many awards included People's Artist of the USSR (1968), Lenin Prize (1980), and Hero of Socialist Labor (1981). In 1991 the Russian government honored him by issuing a postage stamp in his name, and the Satyricon Theater (formerly the State Theater of Short Plays) was named in Raikin's honor in 1991.

See also: motion pictures; theater


Beilin, Adolf Moiseevich. (1960). Arkadii Raikin. Leningrad: Iskusstvo.

Uvarova, E. (1986). Arkadii Raikin. Moscow: Iskusstvo.

Robert Weinberg