Cinema Historian Yangirov Succumbs to Cancer, Age 54

APProminent scholar and journalist Rashit Yangirov, right, posing in 2007.
Rashit Yangirov, a prominent historian of Soviet cinema whose work saved many pre-World War II emigre filmmakers from critical oblivion, has died at age 54.

The scholar, who also worked for the past 14 years as a journalist for Associated Press Television News, died of cancer Sunday in Moscow, APTN colleagues said.

Yangirov wrote "Slaves of the Silent," a groundbreaking 2008 book on pioneers of Russian cinema who left their homeland after the 1917 Revolution.

His research tracked the lives of emigre actors and directors who became stars or extras in Hollywood, Berlin and Paris and helped shape the prewar film industry worldwide.

"His authority in the world of film critics was indisputable," said the library of the Russians Abroad Foundation, where Yangirov worked as senior researcher.

Yangirov wrote more than 200 articles on Russian cinema, fiction and folklore. His subjects included the cinematic cult of Vladimir Lenin, emigre female authors, the persecution of dissident Soviet poets and references to silent films in works by writers such as Vladimir Nabokov and Mikhail Bulgakov.

Born 1954 in the city of Ufa, 1,200 kilometers east of Moscow, Yangirov graduated from the history department of Moscow State University in 1977.

"He managed to juggle the relentless demands of agency journalism with an even more successful career as an academic writing about his true love, the history of Russian film," said Andy Braddel, APTN's regional director for Russia and the CIS. "He will be deeply missed by all of us."

Yangirov is survived by his wife Zoya and a daughter, Lucy. A funeral was held Wednesday.