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Georgy Burkov: “The years in which I did not drink are the erased years of my life!”

Date: October 4, 2023 Time: 15:45:41

Georgy Burkov could become a lawyer, and then there would be no dozens of everyone’s favorite roles.



One of the most beloved Soviet actors, as you know, had no acting education. Well, except for classes in the evening studio of the Perm Drama Theater. He was not accepted into acting schools due to his specific diction; it was believed that he was unfit for professional work. And in general, Georgy Burkov could have become a lawyer, and then there would not have been dozens of everyone’s favorite roles … But he left the third year of the Faculty of Law, began to read books on acting in the Perm library and then worked in provincial theaters. For example, in the theater of the city of Berezniki near Perm. Then there were the Perm and Kemerovo theaters.

And then, when the Stanislavsky Theater was on tour, Burkov decided to appear before its chief director, Boris Lvov-Anokhin. He played her a scene from Gogol’s Notes of a Madman. And Lvov-Anokhin agreed to take him to the company. The rarest case when a person is taken from nowhere, and even without a diploma. It was whispered in the theater that this was madness, but, nevertheless, Burkov appeared on the Moscow stage.

This was in 1965. A year later, he made his film debut. First there was a role in the film “Khmyr”, forgotten by everyone, then in the story “Angel” by Andrey Smirnov from the anthology “The Beginning of an Unknown Era” (Burkov was brilliant, but the film was saved). ..) The real beginning of the film career was Eldar’s Zigzag of Fortune Ryazanov.

They remembered that Burkov could drink right on the set: he threw two, three, five glasses of vodka, and in the frame


When the director first saw the artist, he immediately diagnosed: “He has the perfect face for the role of a drunken Russian intellectual.” And from a small role (in the central episode, the hero counted how many bottles of vodka he could buy in order to win the lottery – it turned out that it was a lot, enough for five years!) It became clear to everyone that he was the first. -class artist. So there were no more problems with the invitations.


Among Burkov’s brightest roles were those he played in Vasily Shukshin’s films “Stoves and Benches” and “Kalina Krasnaya”. And with Shukshin they were the best of friends. Georgy Ivanovich’s widow, Tatyana Ukharova-Burkova, recalled: “When Zhora told me about the first meeting with Shukshin, I realized: the person who thinks and lives by the same rules has finally come. They immediately spoke in a language they understood. And it was not necessary to see each other every day. Zhora changed, began to write a lot. Two wonderful years named VASYA SHUKSHIN! Zhora lived only according to Shukshin’s plans and connected his further creative life only with him. And Burkov himself (who left memories of Shukshin and eventually became the artistic director of the Shukshin Center for Culture) said: “Shukshin had a great spiritual influence on me. Communication, friendship with him became a turning point in my life.

Burkov and Shukshin starred together in Sergei Bondarchuk’s film “They Fought for the Motherland.”


A lot of stories are told about their friendship, somewhat reminiscent of “Anecdotes from Pushkin’s Life.” For example, once Burkov came to visit Shukshin completely dry, although it was raining outside. Shukshin asked: “How did you manage not to get wet?” Burkov replied: “And I slipped through the drops!” Or: once Burkov was visiting Shukshin, he was writing something and could not be distracted. Burkov saw a wasp in the window, tried to kill it, hit the window glass once, then twice… The third time the glass shattered. “Well, did you kill?” Shukshin asked imperturbably, without looking up from the manuscript.

In 1974, they starred together in Sergei Bondarchuk’s film “They Fought for the Motherland.” Shukshin died in them. Burkov was the last to see him alive and the first to see him dead (he was the one who discovered the body). The words “it was a blow to him” will not convey anything. According to his wife, when he returned home, he was unable to utter a word for almost a day.

Shot from the movie “Cruel Romance”



They remembered that Burkov could drink right on the set: he would knock down two, three, five glasses of vodka – and in the frame. And surprisingly, there is no difference between a sober and a bit of an artist.

Ah, if the conversations about Burkov’s relationship with alcohol were limited to such cute stories! There were drunkenness and “very scared”, according to his wife, periods. The spirit in his life was the sea; to listen to the stories of acquaintances, it will seem that there was no longer a drinking artist in our cinema.

Not a single article about Burkov is complete without a story about how the actor interrupted his debut performance in Moscow (it was borrowed from Ryazanov’s book “Unsummarized Results”). Apparently, before the performance, Burkov drank with a friend from Kemerovo and did not knit anything. After that, by order of the director, he was fired, but Lvov-Anokhin did not want to part with the artist. He took him on probation without pay. Burkov played, formally without receiving a penny for it – good Lvov-Anokhin paid him money every month from his own pocket … However, the widow of Georgy Ivanovich, who knew him better than anyone, claimed that he did not have a only performance in his entire life did not break.

Burkov treated alcohol with humor. Telling stories to friends. One was retold by Alexander Pankratov-Cherny. Once Burkov went on a drunken binge with Oleg Efremov. They drank for a week in his apartment, then one morning they gathered in the kitchen, they were hungover, and Efremov began to complain: “I want to stage Chekhov, but they call me from the Central Committee, they say: put on a play about Lenin. And who will play Lenin in my theater, well, who? And suddenly, rounding his eyes, he pointed a finger at Burkov and exhaled solemnly: “You! You are Lenin! Burkov replied: “Well, ask for a vehicle armored!” But after a few minutes, the friends urgently decided to leave: it suddenly seemed to both of them that the drunken stage, in which Burkov seems to be Lenin, was already too dangerous …

And the director Sergei Solovyov recalled how Burkov did not drink for two and a half years, and they even whispered around Moscow: “Have you heard? Burkov does not drink!” But suddenly Solovyov met Burkov on the street: he was drunk. Solovyov asked: “Zhor, well, honestly, it’s a thing of the past, tell me: what is it like not to drink at all?” Burkov thought. “Honestly?” – “Honestly”. – “These are the fucking erased years of life!”

Shot from the film “Garage”



The role she dreamed of was Venichka in the film “Moscow-Petushki”. They say that he was blessed by Venedikt Erofeev himself, and, of course, this role would have turned out to be Burkov’s masterpiece. But…

Eldar Ryazanov offered him the role of the president in the film Promised Heaven. Burkov agreed instantly. But, Ryazanov wrote, “the next day, while he was at home, he unsuccessfully fell and broke his hip. Someone from our film crew quipped, “So our president is pathetic. Burkov and will play it on crutches.” Georgy Ivanovich was taken to the hospital. The doctors said that if the operation was performed, Burkov would be able to walk normally in just a week, and if he let things take their course, he would have to limp for three months without parting with his crutches. (…)

On the night of the day when the surgeons cut off Burkov’s leg, I called the artist at his home. Tanya said that the operation went well, Zhora feels fine, and in two days it will be possible to send her a script to the hospital. And the next day the news came: Burkov died.

He died of a pulmonary thromboembolism (in other words, a dislodged blood clot). She happened in 1990, she was only 58 years old. And as a result, the film “Moscow-Petushki” was never made …

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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