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How the 90-year-old widow of Leonid Gaidai lives after his departure: Nina Grebeshkova's only vocation
How the 90-year-old widow of Leonid Gaidai lives after his departure: Nina Grebeshkova's only vocation

Nina Grebeshkova, who celebrated her 90th birthday 3 months ago, has long been accustomed to being presented primarily not as an actress, but as the wife of director Leonid Gaidai. She herself always considered this role the most important and still calls herself his wife, not a widow. Together they spent more than 40 years, and for 27 years now she has been living without him. What helps the actress not to feel lonely, how she reacts to rumors about her husband's infidelity and why she was outraged by Natalia Varley's memoirs - further in the review.

Student romance that lasted 40 years

Nina Grebeshkova in the film Honor of a Comrade, 1953

As a child, Nina dreamed of becoming a teacher, but in high school she was forced to change her mind by the father of Maria's friend, the poet Vladimir Lugovskoy. He talked so interestingly about theater and cinema that Nina was eager to become an actress. She got her first film role at the age of 18, only having entered VGIK, where she studied with Nikolai Rybnikov, Alla Larionova, Klara Rumyanova. Grebeshkova started acting so actively that she missed a lot of classes, and Sergei Gerasimov gave her a “two” on the exam - they say, either to act or study! Nina had to transfer to another course, but with Alla Larionova they remained friends for life.

Leonid Gaidai and Nina Grebeshkova

Leonid Gaidai studied with Nina in the new course, combined with the director's course. Even during her studies, she starred in several films and became a fairly famous actress, and he was an ordinary student. But Nina said that she immediately discerned talent in him, and that was what he conquered her with. However, at the wedding, she refused to take his last name - she was already known as an actress Grebeshkova, moreover, by the name of Gaidai, it was not even possible to understand whether it was a man or a woman, and the spouses could be confused.

Actress Nina Grebeshkova in her youth

Life with him has never been easy - the director plunged headlong into work, constantly disappeared on the set, but Nina never made any claims to him about this. She could have made a brilliant acting career, but for the sake of the family she sacrificed her own ambitions and devoted herself entirely to her husband and daughter Oksana. Nina always dreamed of a big family, but the director no longer wanted children, and she had to put up with it. After all, he himself was a big child for her, constantly in need of attention and care.

Sergey Gerasimov (bottom left) and his students Nina Grebeshkova and Leonid Gaidai (center)

The most important role - "the director's wife"

Many actresses envied her - to marry a director meant to ensure that she was in demand in the profession and the ability to choose any role. But this pair was an exception to the rule. Gaidai filmed his wife, but not as often as other actresses, and never offered her leading roles. Moreover, he did not even allow her to choose a supporting role. In the film "The Diamond Hand" Grebeshkova most of all liked the image of the house manager, but Gaidai told her that she would not pull it, and gave it to Nonna Mordyukova, and entrusted Nina with the role of the protagonist's wife.

Nina Grebeshkova in the film Test of Loyalty, 1954

Thanks to the filming of Gaidai's films, many young Soviet actresses have become real movie stars, such as Natalya Varley, Natalya Selezneva and Svetlana Svetlichnaya, and his own wife has always remained in the shadows. This surprised many, as well as how calm Grebeshkova refers to the fact that her husband is taking pictures of the first beauties of the USSR and spends a lot of time with them on the set.But when asked whether she felt jealous of her husband and envy of the successful film career of her colleagues, she replied that she always thought, first of all, that everything would turn out for her husband the way he wanted.

Still from the film Prisoner of the Caucasus, or Shurik's New Adventures, 1966

When Gaidai consulted with his wife and showed her photographs of actresses applying for a particular role, she advised him to choose the best, those with whom he himself could fall in love. His creative realization and success for Nina were in the first place, because if he was satisfied, then she was happy too. The actress never once arranged scenes of jealousy for him and was indignant when, after his departure, Natalya Varley published a memoir, where she told about how the director once tried to kiss her. Grebeshkova said: "".

Yuri Nikulin and Nina Grebeshkova in the film The Diamond Arm, 1968

The director had many health problems, and his wife went with him to the shooting to prepare dietary meals for him. Years later, the actress admitted: "".

Nina Grebeshkova in the film The Diamond Arm, 1968

Before leaving, the director confessed to his wife that he felt guilty before her and wanted to apologize. She was worried that he would start telling her about his hobbies with other actresses, and he apologized for not filming her in the lead roles and not making a single film especially for her. To this Nina answered him: "".

Life after Gaidai

Honored Artist of Russia Nina Grebeshkova

He died at the end of 1993. With his departure, an entire era of Soviet cinema ended - and the happiest period in the life of Nina Grebeshkova. He remained for her the only beloved man. Years after his departure, she confessed: "".

Shot from the film Crew, 2016

After her husband died, troubles rained down on the actress one after another: first, the apartment was flooded, then the dacha burned down. Friends and fans helped Grebeshkova rebuild the country house, and later the Ideal Repair program arranged it so that one could spend time there both in summer and in winter. Since then, Nina Grebeshkova prefers to spend most of her time there. She leads a quiet, measured life and does not feel lonely, because she still constantly feels the presence of her husband. "" - says the actress.

Nina Grebeshkova with her daughter and granddaughter

Nina Grebeshkova does not consider her acting career to be a failure - she played more than 65 movie roles, and 25 of them after Gaidai left. She still, despite her venerable age, remains a popular actress and often receives new proposals from directors. Of course, in recent years, she has been removed less often than before, and these are episodic roles, but they still turn out to be just as bright. Her last film works were small roles in the films Legend # 17, The Crew and the second season of the TV series The Kept Women. The daughter of Grebeshkova and Gaidai, Oksana, did not continue the creative dynasty - she received an economic education, and her daughter Olga chose the same profession. Both work in the banking sector. The daughter and granddaughter helped Nina Grebeshkova to survive the most difficult period, when Gaidai passed away, and today they try to surround her with attention and care.

Honored Artist of Russia Nina Grebeshkova

The actress feels happy and believes that she has fulfilled her most important vocation in life - she was the wife of a genius and even participated in those of his films, in which she herself did not act, because, perhaps, it was thanks to her love that the director was able to create so many masterpieces! Behind the scenes of the film "It can't be!": How Yuri Nikulin offended Leonid Gaidai.

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