Russian actress Marina Ladynina was the icon of Soviet cinema. It’s hard to believe, but this elegant, refined, with noble manners woman had the most proletarian origin. In Stalin’s time at the beginning of Gorky Street hung two large, full house, portraits. On one side of the street – Stalin himself. And on the other – Marina Ladynina. One of the brightest, most favorite actresses, she was the epitome of the era.
Marina was born in a remote Siberian village Nazarovo Yenisei province 11 June 1908. The parents were simple peasants: her father, Alexei Dmitrievich had three classes of rural school, and her mother, Maria Naumovna was illiterate. In a family of four children, where Marina (Masha, Marusya) was the oldest.
She had to do all housework, cook food and look after the younger children. She had to work since early age – milked wealthy neighbors’ cows. And in the winter went to school to the neighboring village. Since childhood, Masha had two passions: books and a stage. She read much, and then with passion retold all she had read to her friends. In her second grade, she was considered the best storyteller of the school and, therefore, acted in school plays.
Inspired by the play, Marina got lost in her roles, she perfectly sang, danced, played the balalaika in an orchestra of folk instruments. … Even her strict mother believed in the talent of her daughter, though she was sure that the work on the stage was totally worthless.
After school – at her 15 (!) Marina became a rural schoolteacher in her native village. But the passion for scene only intensified: Mary was constantly playing in amateur theatricals, and participated in concerts. Soon she moved to Smolensk province, the home of her father – in order to be closer to the culture. Once to the village, where she worked, came Sergey Fadeev, an actor of Meyerhold theater. They met. He recognized in the rural young teacher talent of actress, gave her address, and most importantly – he presented her a book by KS Stanislavsky “My Life in Art”. The future was determined. In 1929 Marina Ladynina left the village to conquer Moscow.
She came to GITIS (State Institute of Theater and Cinematography) and was accepted after the first exam. Statement of examination board – “very talented.” In 1931, while studying at the GITIS Ladynina first time was on the set. The famous at that time director Yuri Zhelyabuzhskiy invited her to the episode role of a blind girl in his film “Don’t go to the city” (or “Prosperity”). The filming lasted only one day. To her surprise and unspeakable joy, on the day of the premiere Marina found a huge billboard with her photo at the entrance to the cinema. Marina stood at the board for a few days in the hope that passers-by would recognize her. But no one recognized.
After Zhelyabuzhsky she was invited by other directors. Marina had a lot of friends who loved her for her cheerful character, indomitable energy and kindness. With classmate Ivan Lyubeznov friendship turned into marriage – though not for long. However, Lyubeznov stayed her friend and film partner for a long time.
Studying at the second course of Institute Ladynina was noticed by the Moscow Art Theatre. A contract was signed, according to which Marina Ladynina entered the company of the famous theater. Marina appeared on stage with such renowned actors as Konstantin Stanislavsky and Vladimir Nemirovich – Danchenko, Vasily Katchalov, Olga Knipper – Chekhova, Ivan Moskvin, Anatoly Ktorov, and others.
One of the first roles of Ladynina was a nun Taisa in Maxim Gorky’s play “Yegor Bulychov and others.” Young actress was spotted. She was praised by Gorky, Stanislavsky. In one letter, Stanislavsky wrote that he sees the great future of Ladynina as a theater actress. In parallel with theatrical roles Ladynina was busy in the movie. 1934 she starred in the movie “The enemy’s trail” directed by I. Pravov and Preobrazhenskaya, where her partner was Ivan Lyubeznov, Emma Cesarskaya and Boris Tenin, and in 1935 in “The Devil’s Outpost at the ford” directed by Bilinski.
April 14, 1936 Marina came out of the House of Cinema, along with her friend Lala, wife of actor Ivan Koval – Samborski – Marina starred with him in “Devil’s Outpost at the ford”. There she met already quite famous director Ivan Pyrev.
All evening, Ivan was staring at Marina and then went to see her home. And on the porch of the hostel where Marina lived, he told her about his love and asked her to become his wife. And Ivan Pyrev was already married – to the most famous movie actress of 20s, beauty Ada Wojcik. They had a son, Eric, who was adored by Ivan.
Ivan Pyrev lived with Marina, then came back to Ada again. Ada was going through difficult divorce – even tried to commit suicide. Once she said to Marina: “One day he will reject you as well” …
For “Rich Bride” Pyrev and Ladynina were awarded the Order of Lenin. Inspired by this success, Pyrev immediately filmed Ladynina in the movie “Tractorists”. On the set Ladynina drove a tractor, floated across the steppe on a motorcycle. Tenderness and grace of Ladynina softened mood propaganda film. For this film Ladynina and Pyrev were awarded the State Prize of the USSR – the first of five received by them at the time of working together.
Ladynina had starred in eight films of Pyrev. Virtually none of the directors did not dare ask her to star in their films – she was the actress of Pyrev. Pyrev and Ladynina had lived together for more than 15 years. Their relationship had never been rosy – Ivan Aleksandrovich had a very difficult character, and in the postwar years, he increasingly began to aspire to power, becoming envious. Pyrev cried when Marina was away from home for a long time. She was a wife, a close friend, counselor, muse and favorite actress for Pyrev. One day everything changed.
Pyrev became interested in a young actress Lyudmila Marchenko – she was only 19 years old, she had just starred in Lev Kulidzhanov’s movie “Father’s house”. He fell in love with his reckless passion, took her to the role of Nastya in the film “White Nights” by Dostoevsky, literally chased her – though Lyudmila rejected all his offers. Pyrev openly declared that he wanted to marry her.
Ladynina could not stand it. She tried to talk to her husband, but he just told her, “You do not seem to mind me a divorce? Okay, I will divorce you, but you will star in films only in your dream, no more, and nobody will ever shoot you”. Divorce, that happened in the family of Pyrev and Ladynina turned out to be fatal to one of the participants. Pyrev, using his authority and power – at that time he was the director of “Mosfilm” – forbade anyone to shoot his ex-wife in films. Ladynina no longer appeared in any movie.
Marchenko rejected Pyrev. She was married several times, and one of the men in a fit of jealousy to Pyrev had beaten her, disfiguring her face. Then Pyrev made a proposal to her, but again he was rejected.
Ladynina never met Pyrev – just came to his funeral, saying goodbye to him in private, before the civil funeral.