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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Soviet-Era Comic Screen Legend Dies




Yevgeny Morgunov, one of Russia's leading comic actors, died Monday. Plump and bald, Morgunov represented a traditional character of Soviet satire f Byvaly, or Experienced, a slightly dull, strong-built drunk whose attempts to commit petty crimes always failed.


Morgunov, 72, died in a Moscow hospital over the weekend after suffering a stroke earlier this month, Itar-Tass and Ekho Moskvy radio reported.


Although his acting career was not limited to comedies, he was best known for his work in a comic trio in a series of films by Leonid Gaidai, with Yury Nikulin playing Balbes, or Booby, and Georgy Vitsin as Trus, or Coward. Their best-known film together was "Kavkazskaya Plennitsa," or Captive of the Caucasus.


Morgunov's Byvaly was always the tight-lipped and aggressive leader of the group. The three symbolized exactly what Soviet men were not supposed to be f drunk, unemployed and inclined toward mischief.


In one legendary scene in "Kavkazskaya Plennitsa," Byvaly gives lessons on how to dance the twist f by putting out cigarette butts with his foot.


Morgunov's popularity was not far behind that of his partner Nikulin, a famous actor and clown of the Moscow Circus who died last year.


He started out as a worker in a Moscow factory, but f a little naive and obsessed with becoming an actor f he wrote a letter to Josef Stalin telling the Great Leader about his dream. Morgunov received a reply from Stalin that said that a place was allocated for him in the acting class at the State Cinematography Institute.


Morgunov launched his film career while still a student.


Burial will be at the Kuntsevskoye Cemetery on Tuesday.