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December 18, 2021 12:59 pm

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People’s Artist of the USSR Yury Nikulin (right) and People’s Artist of the RSFSR M. Shuydin. Photo by A. Knyazev. 1980s. Main Archive of Moscow

The artist devoted almost 50 years of his life to the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard.

December 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Yuri Nikulin, People’s Artist of the USSR. The Main Archive Fund of Moscow contains materials related to his life and work: photographs, posters and booklets of circus performances, letters and bookplates made by the artist Tatyana Kovrigina.

Circus, cinema and literature

Yuri Nikulin tried several times to enter theater universities, but the attempts were unsuccessful. However, he was accepted into the clownery studio, which worked at the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. Here in 1947 he started working as a clown. At first, Yuri Nikulin was an assistant to the famous clown Karandash (Mikhail Rumyantsev), then he became a partner of Mikhail Shuydin. They met Shuydin at the circus school. The two front-line soldiers, who knew the hardships and wounds of the war, were united by their love for the art of clowning, love of life and dedication to their profession.

He made his film debut at the age of 36 and from the first pictures showed himself as a diverse actor. He transferred circus eccentrics and texture from the arena to the screen. The artist received great love from the audience thanks to his participation in his first comedies, where he played the role of Goonies – one of the famous trinity. Yuri Nikulin was not only a comic actor: one can recall his serious dramatic roles in the films When the Trees Were Big, They Fought for the Motherland, Twenty Days Without War, and Scarecrow.

To the 100th anniversary of the artist’s birth: “Moschino” invites you to screenings of films with Yuri Nikulin

In addition to working in the circus and cinema, Yuri Nikulin wrote notes about life, circus, war, and from his youth he collected jokes. In collaboration with the famous clown Oleg Popov and the historian of circus art Rudolf Slavsky, he published the book “The Art of Clowning”, and a little later – the autobiographical work “Almost Seriously …”.

Circus on Tsvetnoy

Yuri Nikulin was very fond of the circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard. Here he began his work in the arena, and then became its director. Nikulin later founded a fund for retired circus performers and performers. In total, he devoted almost 50 years of his life to his home institution. Now there is a monument in his honor next to the circus.

In 1997, Yuri Nikulin celebrated his 75th birthday in his own circus. In honor of the hero of the day, a grand celebration was organized, on the same day the circus was named after Yuri Nikulin. Unfortunately, this was the last birthday of the great artist.

Nikulin was remembered as a man of boundless kindness. “I am a clown,” the artist said about himself. – I get joy when I hear the audience laughing. I get joy when I see smiles of children and adults. “

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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