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His wife carried Roman Kartsev in her arms: they lived together for more than half a century

Date: July 18, 2024 Time: 10:04:03

The artist was 10 cm shorter than his wife and when she put on heels, he looked very small. Photo: Personal archive of the Kartsev family.

I remember what we laughed about in the former USSR until we fell, we laughed with laughter, we laughed at the top of our lungs, we burst our stomachs, we lost our temper, we clenched our sides. And before your eyes, Roman Kartsev with funny humorous “Crayfish” (“Yesterday there were five rubles, but very big, and today three, but very small”); “Avas” (about a stupid Georgian assistant professor). And his phrases, which immediately reached the people: “What will the head of the transport department say?”, “Well, Grigory! Excellent, Konstantin!”… Unforgettable is his house committee chairman, Shvonder from “Heart of a Dog”, who passionately sings “The Harsh Years Are Passing”.

Dad is a footballer, mom is a communist.

Roman Katz (the real name of the artist) was born in Odessa. “I come from a simple family: dad is a soccer player, mom is a communist, I studied poorly,” he admitted in one of his books. “I wrote dictations with many errors, I could make three in one word.”

Mom is a quality control inspector at a shoe factory and also secretary of the party organization. My father, who was wounded three times at the front, after the war went from being a striker to a football referee, refereeing matches in the second Ukrainian league. He insisted that his son get a decent profession. After school, I was sent to Rome to work as an equipment fitter in a factory. Not my mother’s shoe store, but a sewing store with the loud name “Avangard.”

“In my workshop there are 80 girls, almost all of them from the town, blood and milk, everything is upside down,” the People’s Artist recalled at that time. – We worked in a temperature of between 30 and 35 degrees, the roof was hot, the engines were hot, it was very hot! They stripped naked and sat in shorts and black bras. There was a bucket of water next to each of them and they periodically got wet from head to toe. Steam came from their bodies, and it made me shiver…

It was especially interesting to get under the machine to fix the belt. I tickled them with a screwdriver. Laughter! Many people liked this game and often called me to fix the belt. And when we all went in a group to the collective farm to pick tomatoes, potatoes, there was sex! In the haystack. Nearby is a cow with its eyes wide open, staring and mooing. Cattle! I had a very beautiful, fantastic girlfriend, and when I walked with her along Deribasovskaya, everyone looked at her: no one knew me then. Then it turned out that the whole city knew her.”

“ Desdemona would have strangled me herself.”

The Odessa resident dreamed that everyone would know him. He was not suitable for football: too small and skinny. There was only one way left: the stage. While still at school, he was nicknamed Romka the Artist because of his love of amateur performances. “I read patriotic poems and then gradually moved on to the humorous genre. After all, Odessa… And what kind of hero am I at 47 kg of weight? He couldn’t strangle Desdemona; She’d rather strangle myself.

A garment factory fitter frequented the amateur miniature theater “Parnas-2” at the Odessa Institute of Marine Engineers. It was created by graduates of the institute, Odessa port crane mechanic Mikhail Zhvanetsky and forklift mechanic Viktor Ilchenko. Once they needed a small, agile artist to play the role of a thief on a tram. Roman got this role.

In 1962, Arkady Raikin himself, the titled king of Soviet satire and humor, came on tour to Odessa. I saw an amateur performance and invited Roman to his famous Miniature Theater. The teacher asked, “Will your parents let you go?” – “If you don’t let me go, I’ll run away myself!” – “The issue is resolved, wait for the official telegram from Leningrad.”

The next day, Roman left his job and started waiting for an invitation. But the telegram arrived only six months later…

Arkady Raikin noticed Roman’s talent and invited the young Odessa resident to Leningrad. Photo: VGTRK Gosteleradiofond archive

Four Odessa residents

Raikin gradually introduced the newcomer to the performances. He also advised changing the surname Katz to the stage name Kartsev.

A year later, Roman arrived in Odessa for his first vacation. Raikin rested there in the sanatorium. He then he was working on the play “The Magicians Live Nearby.” Curiously, the theater did not have young actors for a couple of characters in the production. Kartsev armed himself with impudence and brought amateur actors from Parnassus to the maestro’s sanatorium: Viktor Ilchenko and Mila Gvozdikova, the older sister of the future star of the film Natalya Gvozdikova. The three returned to Leningrad.

Then Kartsev began to read from the stage a monologue of the head of the cultural department, scolding the performance, a kind of redneck of the arts. For clarity, he put many red pencils and pens in the breast pocket of his jacket. Raikin included humor in his tour of Czechoslovakia. The author of the miniature was Zhvanetsky.

Seeing his name on the sign, Michal Mikhalych left the port of Odessa and ran to his friends. Kartsev recalled: “With the appearance of Zhvanetsky in Leningrad, our life became more lively. Vitya, Misha and I rented a three-room apartment with mattresses. They cooked, invited guests, danced with girls… Zhvanetsky wrote a lot and well, he brought miniatures to Raikin and he put them on the table. Misha went crazy, borrowed money from me and ate it immediately. She ate a lot and never had enough. “I looked under the sofa, took 10 rubles out of my suitcase and he ran back to the restaurant.”

Viktor Ilchenko and Roman Kartsev took their well-deserved place on the stage. Photo: Igor MIKHALEV/RIA Novosti

At that time, Raikin worked with other authors and therefore did not pay attention to Zhvanetsky’s texts. But the residents of Odessa did not give up. Kartsev and Ilchenko performed a miniature of their friend “Avas” before the king of humor. He didn’t react. But he allowed me to show the work at the patron’s concert for soldiers. The laughter was hysterical! The soldiers went behind the scenes, pushing the dark-haired Georgian in front of them: “Here he is, Avas!”

Raikin thought about it. He himself began to play with this humor. And he finally brought Zhvanetsky’s miniatures out of hiding. The new work “Traffic Light” is composed of 80 percent of texts by Michal Mikhalych. However, during the dress rehearsal a scandal broke out. Raikin did not like Kartsev’s improvisation.

“Do you think this is funny?

– Fun! – I responded, as always, without thinking.

– It turns out that you understand humor better than me?!

– It turns out so! “I responded passionately and immediately submitted my resignation.”

It was signed immediately. One week before the premiere and two weeks before the long-awaited tour of Yugoslavia.

To the registry office – in a sprinkler

The friends went to Yugoslavia and Roman, after collecting his belongings, returned to Odessa. I got a job in symphonic jazz and read Zhvanetsky’s monologues. And he missed Leningrad, scolding himself for his temper.

However, every cloud has a silver lining. In “exile” in Odessa, Kartsev met his future wife, ballet corps dancer Victoria Kassinskaya. “I was 27 years old, and she was 17. Vika was not like the other purely Odessa girls. With a scythe up to her toes, without arrogance, somehow closer to me, simpler. Vika’s height was 170 cm, with heels it was 180 cm, and mine was 160 cm. We probably looked weird from outside her, but I liked looking at her. My parents were against it because I married a Russian woman. And the Vikings resisted: I am Jewish, and also small and thin. But she and I somehow defended our union.”

After a year and a half, Raikin exchanged his anger for mercy. He returned Kartsev to the theater. She and Vika were married in Leningrad when she turned 18. The artists arrived late at the registry office. They voted on the road, but the taxis passed. We only managed to stop the watering can for three rubles. They came to sign it.

Friends dissuaded Kartsev from marrying Vika, especially Zhvanetsky. “I don’t know what they wanted. And she turned out to be very good. Of course, not all my hopes were fulfilled, but the main ones were. She is a wonderful housewife, she understands me in everything, she takes care of my children, my grandchildren, my dogs and she makes gefilte fish like my mother, which she taught her.”

Until the age of 33, Kartsev, by his own admission, weighed 47 kg. And his wife, in fact, was carrying him in her arms. Then I fed her according to my mother-in-law’s recipes. They lived together for more than half a century, until the death of the town artist. Daughter Elena is a pharmacist. His son Pavel Kassinsky, also an artist, took his mother’s surname.

Cholera helped the popularity

When Kartsev returned to Leningrad, Zhvanetsky was already in charge of the literary part of the theater. Raikin increasingly performed miniatures of him from the stage: “Scarcity”, “In the Greek Hall” and others. But in 1970 he suddenly fired me. For unauthorized reading of his texts in the margin. “Raikin was an absolutely brilliant great artist,” Zhvanetsky later said. “But a bloodsucker and a tyrant as an artistic director.”

Ilchenko and Kartsev followed. The three Odessa residents have long been thinking about having their own miniature theater in their native Odessa. Zhvanetsky’s dismissal only accelerated the decision. Friends quickly created a concert program “How to get to Deribasovskaya”.

But then cholera came to Odessa. The quarantine was announced. 5 thousand soldiers took the “pearl of the sea” into the ring. There was no time for concerts. Rumors spread throughout the country about thousands of bodies lying on the streets of Odessa. In fact, 126 sick people were identified there, 7 of them died. A month later the quarantine was lifted. The regional party committee urgently sent the newly created miniature theater on tour throughout the country. Look, contrary to rumors, Odessa is alive, Odessa laughs!

In the same year 1970, Kartsev and Ilchenko became winners of the Fourth All-Union Competition of Variety Artists with Zhvanetsky miniatures. National glory!

Later, the friends moved from Odessa to the capital and created the Moscow Theater of Miniatures. Zhvanetsky became its artistic director. For many years, the original duo of little Kartsev and tall Ilchenko, who performed Zhvanetsky humoros on stage, enjoyed incredible popularity in the USSR and abroad, including the United States. Zhvanetsky also became a star.

In the end, the trio of Odessaians overshadowed the king of humor, Raikin.

TO THE POINT

Three brothers

Mikhail Zhvanetsky considered Kartsev and Ilchenko brothers.

Photo: GLOBAL LOOK PRESS

Viktor Ilchenko was the first to die in 1992. At the age of 55. Stomach cancer.

“Our Vitya was very smart,” Roman Kartsev recalls. – When Misha and I were dancing with the young girls, he would sit in the corner and read. He spit out the Ilf and Petrov chapters from memory! He knew all types of airplanes. While on tour at the Moscow Variety Theater, Vitya and I used to sit and look out the windows at the Moscow River during breaks between numbers. Once Vitya, with his eagle eye, saw a plane circling over Red Square and, unlike me, he was terribly surprised and even indignant: “How did it get here?” It turned out that it was Rust, a German who flew over all the borders we have under lock and key and landed on Red Square.

And if Vitya had not become a professional artist, he could have been a minister, a doctor, a director, a surgeon, a cook, a psychologist, a chess player…

We did ten performances with him, almost 500 Zhvanetsky miniatures. For thirty years we have been on stage together. And now I go on stage alone … And it is very difficult for me without Vitya … But I go out to prolong the life of the genre to which he gave his life … ”

After the death of his friend, Kartsev performed one-man performances: Zhvanetsky, Zoshchenko, Chekhov, Kharms and performed his own humorous plays. His concerts were a great success. He wrote several books full of humor.

In 2018, Kartsev also passed away. Stroke. He was 79 years old.

“There were three of us: Roma, Viktor Ilchenko and me,” Zhvanetsky was sad. – We were like brothers. “It is very hard, very painful.”

In 2020 the last of the Odessa brothers died. Mikhail Mikhailovich Zhvanetsky was 86 years old.

BEHIND THE SCENES

Dolbodub Shvonder

In 1987, “The Heart of a Dog” by Mikhail Bulgakov was published for the first time in the USSR. After avidly reading the story, director Vladimir Bortko urgently decided to shoot a two-part film. His wife Natalya wrote the script in a week. That same year the order “Engine!” was heard. He offered Roman Kartsev the position of chairman of the Shvonder House committee. For many, the choice of director seemed unexpected. Even as a comedian, can he handle it?

Kartsev did a brilliant job. His supporting character became one of the most memorable in the film.

“I read Bulgakov’s story many years ago in samizdat, I was surprised and then I was already thinking about how it could be played, not at all expecting to have the opportunity to do it,” Kartsev wrote. – The director only asked me one thing: not to exaggerate facial expressions. It was incredibly easy to play. After all, the image was very familiar to me! In almost every performance I had a monologue from a similar character. Zhvanetsky called them idiots. How much blood these idiots have spoiled for us, how much damage they have done to art!

In total, Kartsev starred in 16 films. Among them are “The Master and Margarita” by Bortko himself, “Promised Heaven” and “Old Nags” by Eldar Ryazanov. Boyarsky’s best film role was considered by the artist in Vladimir Alenikov’s television film “Bindyuzhnik and the King”: “Firstly, Babel, secondly, Odessa, thirdly, a brilliant cast: Vasilyeva, Gerdt, Dzhigarkhanyan, Evstigneev, fourthly, a musical where everyone sings with their own voice. I sang, I danced; I knew everything from within.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

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