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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Comic Nikulin Undergoes Heart Surgery

Comic actor Yury Nikulin, perhaps Russia's best loved show business personality, was in critical condition after undergoing heart surgery in Moscow, Itar-Tass said.

Nikulin, 75, was being kept Sunday in intensive care at the Endocrine Surgery Center.

A clown at the Moscow Circus in the 1950s, he became a movie actor in 1958, rocketing to stardom a decade later in a series of comedies which are still repeatedly shown on Russian television.

In 1967, he played the leader of a hapless trio of crooks in "Kavkazskaya Plennitsa" (Caucasian Prisoner), and in the 1969 "Brilliantovaya Ruka" (Diamond Arm) a mild-mannered man who accidentally gets caught up in an international diamond smuggling operation.

After his acting career, he returned to the circus, becoming director of the Moscow Circus in 1984, a post he still occupies. He also appears almost weekly on television wearing his trademark sailor's hat to tell jokes.

Comic lines he delivered in his films and the songs he sang, such as "Ah, it's all the same to us" in "Brilliantovaya Ruka," are familiar to many Russians.