Nowadays the name Olga Baklanova hardly anyone knows - in her homeland she was not mentioned for many years due to the fact that in 1926 she did not return from a tour in the United States. And before that, she was one of the best students of Stanislavsky, the leading actress of the Moscow Art Theater and the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Studio, the most famous theater actress and silent film star. In emigration, she also managed to achieve considerable success: she conquered Hollywood and Broadway, although her fame was short-lived. They said that it was thanks to her departure that Lyubov Orlova received the roles that she had previously played at the Baklanov Theater.
Olga Baklanova was a native Muscovite. She was born in 1896 to a wealthy family. Her mother was a theater actress in the past, and Olga became interested in theater since childhood. At the age of 16, she passed a competitive selection at the Moscow Art Theater, becoming one of the favorite students of Konstantin Stanislavsky. Soon Baklanova became a leading theater actress and silent film star: before the revolution, she starred in more than 15 films, of which only 9 survived. During the revolutionary riots, her father was killed, the family was left without a livelihood, and several more families were moved into their mansion … But Olga Baklanova's career continued after 1917, she played a major role in the film "Bread", moved to the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Studio, where she participated in 5 major productions. During the same period, the actress married lawyer Vladimir Tsoppi and gave birth to a child.
In the mid-1920s. Olga Baklanova was one of the most famous Moscow theater actresses; she was one of the first to be awarded the title of Honored Artist of the Republic. In 1925, she, together with a group of actors from the Nemirovich-Danchenko Music Studio, went on a tour of the United States and European countries. And there her appearance on the stage, as in her homeland, caused a real sensation. Part of the troupe in 1926 decided to stay abroad. Olga was among the defectors. Nemirovich-Danchenko considered her act a betrayal - he had no one to replace the artist who played the main roles in all his productions. And then the vacant place was taken by Lyubov Orlova, who fit the type. On the stage, she was noticed by the director and future husband, Grigory Aleksandrov, who offered her a role in "Merry Fellows".
In 1927 she made her film debut in Hollywood. Although the role was small, and her name was not even listed in the credits, the directors drew attention to the talented actress. The very next year she starred in the films The Man Who Laughs, The Docks of New York and 7 more films. After that, the studio "Paramount" signed a contract with the actress for a period of 5 years. Her most notable work was the lead role in the sound film "The Wolf of Wall Street". Although Baklanova spoke with a noticeable accent, she continued to receive offers from directors, however, most often they were offered to play foreign women.
A year later, the actress divorced attorney Zoppi and married Russian émigré actor Nicholas Susanin. She continued to act in films, however, critics met several films with her participation coolly. Soon the Paramount studio stopped working with her, but Fox Films offered Baklanova to sign a contract. After the release of two musical comedies with her participation, where she appeared in the form of a femme fatale, the press began to call her "the Russian tigress".
After the birth of her second son, Olga did not act in film for some time, and then returned to the set again. In 1932, a scandal erupted around the film "Freaks", in which Baklanova played the main role. Her heroine, a circus gymnast, married a midget in order to take possession of his condition, tried to poison him, but in the end she herself was crippled. Censorship cut 26 out of 90 minutes of the film, but even in this form it looked provocative. "Freaks" flopped at the box office, and criticism smashed them to smithereens. After that, serious directors did not want to work with Baklanova, and the film that ruined her film career was sent “on the shelf” for many years.
However, on the stage, she was still a star. Baklanova left Hollywood, toured the United States with individual performances, performed on Broadway. The play "Claudia", where she played the main role, was so successful that they decided to film it, and in 1943 the actress appeared on the screen for the last time in the film of the same name. She left the theater stage in 1947.
In the 1960s. Baklanova was remembered again - then they found the first version of the film "Freaks" without cuts and released it in distribution. This time the reaction of the public was different - the director's talent was called ruined, and the actress - undeservedly forgotten. Baklanova again gave interviews and was in the spotlight. However, even before that she did not live in poverty - her third husband was the owner of one of the New York theaters. In her declining years, the actress admitted: "". She died in 1974 at the age of 78.
Olga Baklanova was not the only actress to achieve recognition abroad: As an emigrant from Yalta, Alla Nazimova became one of the brightest stars in Hollywood.