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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016


Like I wrote in my inaugural column two weeks ago, James Bond was never really my cup of tea, but there is one man who's fascinated me since I was a child. He is Gojko Mitic, the Yugoslav-born actor who spent much of his life playing American Indians in East German films.

For most of us 20-somethings born during the final decades of the Soviet Union's life, Mitic, who recently turned 60, is more than a macho guy in a trademark red bandanna with long black hair. For us, he was a square-jawed spiritual leader f an American Indian always ready to take on the evil European settlers who came to set fire to his land.

Always surrounded by a comely squaw (played by East German actresses, by the way), Mitic f larger than life f rode his horse time and again across Moscow cinema screens. In those darkened theaters, I often sat watching, with stars in my eyes, perhaps accompanied by a gradeschool squaw of my own; she in a red Pioneer scarf f no moccasins for little Soviet-era squaws, of course. At home later, I'd paint my face with my mother's old makeup. On the make-believe prairies of my bedroom, I became an Indian, too, just like the Great Goiko himself in "The Sons of Great Bear." In the years to come, I learned that I hadn't been alone. Thousands of kids like me all over the country had been fans of Goiko, in the words of one film critic "the only Indian we were allowed to watch."

Most of us, of course, have since grown up and moved on to admiring the heroes of commercial Hollywood: like Sly Stallone or Arnie Schwarzenegger. But a few f like filmmaker Valery Todorovsky, the man behind "The Land of the Deaf," and me f still remember the hero of our childhood fantasies. Todorovsky told OM magazine last year that Mitic has been his favorite leading man since he was a little boy. Singer Valery Miladze is one of us, too. Miladze's confessed to even having adorned his left shoulder with a tattoo of an American Indian symbol, something he said Mitic inspired him to do.

And despite that Mitic now makes his home in Germany and has completely lost touch with his Russian fans, I nurse a dream that he will return to Russia f he'll ride his pinto stallion to the Kremlin door and ask to see President Vladimir Putin (he's rumored to be a fan). Jailed NTV chief Vladimir Gusinsky will join them (his THT has aired several of Mitic's films). Later, the three of them will sit cross-legged on the floor and, just maybe, smoke a peace pipe or two. Just for old time's sake.

f Alexander Bratersky