December 18 marks the 101st anniversary of the birth of the beloved artist.
Yuri Nikulin entered the history of Russian culture as an artist of great talent, a TV presenter, a collector of jokes, a man without whom the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard cannot be imagined.
The future People’s Artist of the USSR was born on December 18, 1921 in the small town of Demidov, Smolensk province, into an acting family. When the Nikulins moved to Moscow, Yuri entered school No. 349. It was exemplary, famous children’s writers often visited the students, in particular, Arkady Gaidar. Nikulin graduated from another school, and after receiving a certificate was immediately drafted into the Red Army. It is known that Yuri Nikulin during the Great Patriotic War fought near Leningrad, received a shell shock, was the commander of the intelligence department, and assistant platoon commander. Subsequently, the artist used the combat experience when working on films that were included in the golden fund of Russian cinema – first of all, “They Fought for the Motherland.”
Yuri Nikulin had a huge talent. However, members of the selection committees of VGIK and GITIS failed to see this. Without enrolling in these leading creative universities, Nikulin went to the school-studio of colloquial genres at the Moscow Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. The circus always remained for Yuri Vladimirovich a favorite art, became his destiny. As the artist himself said in an interview, he owed his popularity, including in the arena, to cinema, although he admitted: “I am first of all a clown!”. I must say, Nikulin came to the cinema quite late – his first film was the comedy “Girl with a Guitar”, in which he appeared in the episode, playing a loser pyrotechnics. Then there were the drunkard Klyachkin in “The Unyielding”, Prosha in “Yasha Toporkov”, and then the Dunce appeared in the artist’s filmography, who became a favorite character of many generations of viewers.
In the cinema, Nikulin managed to fully realize his comedic gift. It is no coincidence that comedies with his participation still attract thousands of viewers to the screens. He created unforgettable images in “The Diamond Hand”, “Prisoner of the Caucasus”, “Old Robbers”, “12 Chairs” … The artist’s dramatic talent was no less. Kuzma Kuzmich from the film “When the Trees Were Big”, grandfather from “Scarecrow”, Lopatin from the film “Twenty Days Without War” – these roles are performed at the limit of internal tension, on halftones and nuances, they are distinguished by deep penetration into the image and psychology of the hero.
Yuri Nikulin was simply adored by Soviet and Russian viewers. In his filmography – 45 films, in the last, “Captain Crocus”, which was released in 1991, he played the storyteller, director of the circus. And before that – in 1983 – Rolan Bykov shot “Scarecrow”. Yuri Nikulin – Hero of Socialist Labor, holder of the Order of Merit for the Fatherland, III degree. In the last years of his life on television, he hosted the humorous program “White Parrot”, participated in the program “They Came to Our Harbor”, released collections of jokes “from Nikulin” and music CDs. Yuri Nikulin died after heart surgery on August 21, 1997.
Formerly online edition “Teacher’s newspaper” reportedthat the scene of the seduction of the hero Yuri Nikulin from the “Diamond Hand” was recognized by the Russians as one of the most beloved.