Massalitinova, Varvara

Massalitinova, Varvara Osipovna


Born July 17 (29), 1878, in Elets; died Oct. 20, 1945, in Moscow. Soviet Russian actress. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1933).

Upon completing the drama program of the Moscow Theatrical School, where she studied under A. P. Lenskii, Massalitinova joined the company of the Malyi Theater. She performed her first major role, that of Korobochka in Dead Souls (after Gogol), at the Novyi (New) Theater, an affiliate of the Malyi Theater. Her repertoire primarily comprised the character roles of old women in the plays of Ostrovskii and Gogol. In 1919-20 she worked in the State Model Theater. In 1922 she returned to the Malyi Theater, where she created her best roles: Nenila Sidorovna in Ostrovskii’s Hangover From Other Folks’ Wine, Khlestova in Griboedov’s Woe From Wit, and Demid’evna in Leonov’s Invasion. She also continued performing the earlier roles of Manefa and Kukushkina in Ostrovskii’s Even a Wise Man Stumbles and A Profitable Post. Following the realistic tradition of the Malyi Theater, Massalitinova was able to perceive the psychological and personal characteristics of the people she portrayed and then embody them on the stage in a strikingly expressive manner. She sought to create individual speech patterns for each character. The boldness and satirical nature of her portrayals gave social significance to her art. Beginning in 1918, Massalitinova acted in films. She rendered a radiant and joyful portrayal of Grandmother Akulina Ivanovna in the films about Gorky’s life, The Childhood of Gorky and In the World (1938, 1939; State Prize of the USSR, 1941). She was awarded two orders.


Afanas’ev, V. V. O. Massalitinova. Moscow, 1951.
Il’ina M. “V. Massalitinova.” In Aktery sovetskogo kino, vol. 6. Leningrad, 1970.