44 years ago, on September 11, 1974, the Soviet theater and film actor, People's Artist of Ukraine Nikolai Yakovchenko, known for his roles in the films Chasing Two Hares, Maxim Perepelitsa, Queen of the Gas Station, and others, passed away. roles, and he dreamed of dramatic ones, he could play the main roles, but received episodic ones. True, Yakovchenko could turn each episode into a masterpiece and make the audience laugh to tears, although his own life was not at all like a comedy.
Nikolai Yakovchenko was the same age as the twentieth century - he was born in 1900. His artistic abilities manifested themselves in childhood, however, then his energy was difficult to direct in the right direction, and Yakovchenko often hooligan and disrupted lessons. His debut on the theater stage took place at the age of 18 - then he took part in an amateur production in his hometown of Priluki. Then he performed for 10 years in theaters in Kharkov, Simferopol, Dnepropetrovsk and Chernigov, until he came to the Kiev Academic Theater. Ivan Franko, to whom he devoted almost his entire life.
In 1939-1940. the actor was a participant in the Soviet-Finnish war. During the Great Patriotic War, the Yakovchenko family was evacuated to Tambov. There he left his wife and two daughters, and he himself returned to Stalingrad, where, as part of the front brigade, he gave concerts in front of soldiers on the front line and in hospitals and participated in battles. After the war, he returned to Kiev and again began performing in the theater, and in 1952 he made his film debut.
Although his film career began at a fairly mature age - at 52 - Nikolai Yakovchenko managed to play many bright roles, earning the fame of one of the most powerful Ukrainian character actors with a unique comedic talent. Although in all films he got supporting roles, all his works were remembered by the audience and have long become classics of Soviet cinema: "Anxious Youth", "Maxim Perepelitsa", "Plug Marries Tarapunka", "Chasing Two Hares", "Evenings on a Farm near Dikanka "," Queen of the gas station "," Viy "and others.
He got mostly comedic roles, and he himself dreamed of playing the role of Othello someday in his life and appearing in front of the audience in an unexpected dramatic role. He was called a comedian with the soul of a tragedian - in his life there were many dramatic events that left a heavy mark on his soul. Immediately after the war, his wife died of cancer, and the actor was left alone with two daughters. The eldest daughter of the actor, Irina, also died of cancer. Until the end of his days, he remained lonely. For a long time Yakovchenko could not come to terms with this tragedy and tried to find oblivion in alcohol. But despite all the trials he experienced, he often repeated: ""
Actor Oleg Komarov said that he often saw Nikolai Yakovchenko in the Teatralny restaurant, where he approached the visitors and said in a playful manner: “” And then more often it was like this: “”.
His name was overgrown with legends during his lifetime. Both in the theater and outside it, anecdotes were told about it, which were often not far from reality. They say that once he drank too much and lost consciousness. The ambulance doctors, having not found a pulse, took him to the morgue. And there he came to his senses and scared the orderlies, demanding clothes from them, since he was late for the rehearsal. He often walked around the city with his beloved dog Fanfan, and when asked why he leads her on such a long leash, he answered: said: ""
His theater colleague said that one winter he met him on the street in a dressing gown and slippers - he was rushing to the store for "fuel". The actor stopped him and asked how he was doing. Yakovchenko answered on the run: "" Due to the fact that both in the theater and on the set, he often appeared drunk, he was constantly reprimanded and threatened to be fired, but even then he showed miracles of resourcefulness. During the filming, they were very strict to ensure that the actor did not drink anything stronger than tea. But after dinner he smelled of alcohol again. No one could understand when he had time to drink - everyone saw that he did not eat or drink anything except raw eggs "for the voice." As it turned out, he pumped vodka into them with a syringe!
Yakovchenko was not worried about the fact that both in the theater and in the cinema he did not get the main roles. He liked to repeat: "".
Despite the fact that Nikolai Yakovchenko played more than fifty memorable roles in the cinema, and theatrical performances with his participation were held in crowded halls, he received the title of People's Artist of the Ukrainian SSR only in his declining years, at the age of 70. And after 4 years he was gone - the actor was admitted to the hospital with appendicitis, but he went to the doctors too late, and during the operation he died. They say that his last words before he was taken to the operating room were: "". The comedian remained true to himself until his last breath.
On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the actor's birth, at the beginning of the new 21st century, a monument to Nikolai Yakovchenko was erected in Kiev opposite the theater where he worked. And in 2008, the monument appeared in his hometown of Priluki, on the theater square.
There are a lot of interesting things left behind the scenes of the film "Chasing Two Hares": Why the role of Pronya Prokopovna became fatal for the actress.