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Vera Kholodnaya: the same “slave of love” to whom “in the dives of San Francisco, a purple black gave her a coat”

Date: June 15, 2024 Time: 17:22:02

Vera Kholodnaya is one of the first stars of Russian cinema.

Photo: frame of the film.

Surprisingly, Cold is not a pseudonym, but rather his real name. She perfectly suited the image of a proud beauty who shunned her admirers, but she was chosen not by the producers, but by her fate. Vertinsky’s famous lines are dedicated to Vera Vasilievna: “Your fingers smell of incense, and sadness sleeps on your eyelashes, now you don’t need anyone, now you don’t feel sorry for anything …”, and also Smells of cold, only of grave. Vera Kholodnaya died when she was only 25 years old.

During his life he was a superstar, and after his death he became a legend, remembered even now, when all his movies are forgotten. It was she who became the prototype of the heroine of the film “Slave of Love” by Nikita Mikhalkov. And Vertinsky dedicated many songs to him, among them the one that Vladimir Vysotsky sings in “The meeting place cannot be changed”: “You seem to have loved the Portuguese afterwards, or maybe you went with the Malays… In the haunts of San Francisco, purple, black gives you a coat…”


Vera Levchenko (her maiden name) was born in Poltava in 1893. When she was two years old, the family moved to Moscow. And when the girl was ten years old, her father died; someone says that she is because of cholera, someone says that it is because of angina pectoris. Vera had to take care of her younger sisters and educate them. At the same time, she attended the ballet school at the Bolshoi Theater (but she did not finish it, which she always regretted very much), she participated in amateur productions and concerts in the gymnasium.

And at the age of 17 she met the lawyer Vladimir Kholodny at the ball, fell in love and got married. And this marriage, despite the young age of the bride, was very happy, two daughters were born in it. Screenwriter and memoirist Alexei Kapler described her husband as follows: “He was, Vladimir Kholodny, a man of unusual sincerity and kindness to match Vera. Smart, witty, loved by all who knew him, a talented lawyer, a brilliant speaker. He was predicted a great legal future. An incredibly gambling athlete, he was constantly involved in auto racing, repeatedly receiving serious injuries, but time and time again getting behind the wheel of a racing car. In 1915, the officer Kholodny was seriously wounded twice in battles near Warsaw. He was awarded a golden weapon for his bravery.”

But Vera also had admirers who shyly sighed for her. One of them was the unknown Alexander Vertinsky. In her memoirs, he wrote: “Having met her once in Kuznetsk, where she flew every day, I suggested that she try her hand at the cinema. At first she refused, then she became interested, I took her to the film factory and showed her to the directors … Vera always remembered that I first pushed her along the path in which she became a one-shot movie star. unknown young man

However, Vera at one time helped the future chansonnier. Sister Kholodnaya recalled: “Vertinsky? He first appeared with us with a letter from Vladimir Grigorievich, Vera’s husband. It was a letter from the front. I just opened the door for you. I see a thinner, skinny soldier standing. His legs are rolled up, his robe is all stained, his neck is thin, long, somewhat unfortunate. He then he served as an attendant on a train – a mobile hospital. I took him to the living room. He gave Vera a letter and started coming to see us every day. He sat down, looked at Vera and was silent. One day he asked me to listen to him. These were some useless verses. Vera honestly expressed her opinion. Then she brought more and more, and finally Vera found something interesting. After all, she herself sang old gypsy novels very well, accompanying herself on the piano. Vera asked Artsybusheva, who was the director of the Theater of Miniatures in Mamonovsky Lane (now the Moscow Youth Theater), to organize Vertinsky’s performances. She sang her “Little Creole” there and some other songs dedicated to Vera… Vertinsky dedicated all his songs to her one after another: “Negro purple”, “In this noisy city…”, “Where are you now? …” and so on. I had constant skirmishes with Vertinsky, half jokingly, half seriously. There was an instrument in my room, he came up to me and for hours he picked up the melodies from it with one finger. At the same time, I, of course, could not prepare lessons, and I begged him to go somewhere. He replied “now, now”, and this “now” lasted for hours. He absolutely hated it.”


The crossing with Vertinsky on the Kuznetsky bridge became crucial for Kholodnaya. At the first “film factory”, however, nothing happened – the director Vladimir Gardin decided that the girl would not be of any use. Yes, she is beautiful, but not an actress. Vera was not upset, but she tried her luck with another director, Yevgeny Bauer, who worked for another company. And he exclaimed: “I found a treasure!”

He offered Vera the main role in the melodrama Song of Triumphant Love. Producer (as we would call him today) Alexander Khanzhonkov, having barely seen the footage, signed a three-year contract with Kholonaya. And it was one of his most successful business decisions. She has appeared a new star in Russian cinema. First star.

At that time, Kapler recalled, the producers hid their plans from each other: there was a high probability that competitors would find out that this or that film was being shot, and quickly, on their knees, slapped their version of the plot. Information about the filming of films with Vera Kholodnaya was not hidden, on the contrary, the pictures began to be advertised when work on them was just beginning. Because in this case, the audience, almost for the first time, turned not to the plot, but to the actress.

Kapler said that he lived in a holiday village near kyiv and that there was a barn where new movies were shown. “The cinematograph generally operated only on holidays. There were foreign or national tapes. Some were less visited, others more, but when a new picture with the participation of Vera Kholodnaya was announced, a crowd gathered at the entrance in the morning for tickets. The tape with Vera Kholodnaya was played from morning to night, and not only on Sunday, but all week, until the entire population of the village reviewed it. And many fans of the “queen of the screen” saw the image five times, or even more. Young Lesha Kapler himself treated melodramas with great disdain, but once, nevertheless, reluctantly, out of semi-squeamish curiosity, he went to the same film with Vera Kholodnaya, and she subdued him forever. And even she burst into tears from the influx of feelings.


The films of those years were shot quickly and then disappeared without a trace. For three years, Vera Kholodnaya managed to appear in several dozen films (about forty-seven, although there are different versions). Seven have survived to this day, with the exception of Anna Karenina, where she made a cameo appearance.

“Vera Vasilievna loved everything beautiful: flowers, trees, the sea. When she was filming in Sochi, she wrote us letters from the Riviera Hotel home saying that the sea is so wonderful, but it gives her an incomprehensible longing, and the surf deprives her of sleep and peace, ”wrote her sister. According to her, Kholodnaya’s literary tastes were quite traditional: Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Ostrovsky, Hugo. Flaubert, the young Dumas. Notre Dame Cathedral, Kreutzer Sonata, Madame Bovary, Lady of the Camellias. No doubt she was drawn to the heroines there, whom she was not meant to play.

Was she a good actress or just a spectacular model? There was definitely something about her, a kind of elusive magic that turns true movie stars into stars. Once Stanislavsky himself was imbued with her charms, he called the Moscow Art Theater. But during the conversation he warned that it could take him a year to prepare a performance. Cold was glad to hear such a flattering offer for her, but she chose the cinema, she preferred to be captured for eternity.

The heroine of Nikita Mikhalkov’s “Slaves of Love”, performed by Elena Nightingale, only vaguely resembles Cold. Hardly a real actress was so reverently brought up as Olga Voznesenskaya. But there is no doubt: it was Vera Vasilievna who was the prototype of the heroine of the film. In the same way, after the revolution, she left with a film group for the south to complete the shooting of the film. And in one of the letters received by her biographer Alexei Kapler, an elderly woman, a former underground worker, said: “The name of Vera Kholodnaya I often came across in connection with the activities of the underground, and I remember her as a friend who helped our clandestine organization”…

Vera Kholodnaya had a great chance to leave the Civil War and its horrors abroad. She flatly refused to even think about it. She officially stated: “Foreign companies offer us a lot of money, which means we are highly valued there. But now parting with Russia, exhausted and tormented as it is, is painful and criminal, and I will not do it. She liked to repeat: “Everyone’s duty is to help their country.”

And then he went to Odessa. “Why did we do this? She might have lived and lived, ”the sister later lamented. A pavilion was built on French Boulevard, where new movies were shot quickly, one after another. And in Odessa, in the humid February of 1919, she contracted the “Spanish flu,” the flu from which she had no escape. In Vera Vasilievna’s case, it was so severe that doctors compared it to the pneumonic plague. Crowds gathered outside the house where she lay with a fever. It did not last long: the cold burned out in a few days.

She was accompanied on her last trip by a large funeral procession. In the cathedral where she was buried, “there was no place for a needle to fall”, as an eyewitness recalled. Her funeral was filmed and preserved.

And Alexander Vertinsky remembered his song “Your fingers smell of incense.” It was written during Kholodnaya’s lifetime, dedicated to her, and it scared her very much. She waved her hands at me: “What have you done! There is no need! There is no need! I don’t want to! For me to lie in a coffin! Never!” She was strangely agitated: “This is death! Take off the dedication now!” But everything came true exactly as Vertinsky predicted: she lay in a coffin, the deacon’s gray beard covered the age-old dust of icons, her fingers smelled of incense, and sadness calmed down on her eyelashes …

* 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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