Lev Sverdlin

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Sverdlin, Lev Naumovich


Born Nov. 3 (16), 1901, in Astrakhan; died Aug. 29, 1969, in Moscow. Soviet Russian actor. People’s Artist of the USSR (1954).

Sverdlin was trained at the A. V. Lunacharskii Theatrical Technicum and at the State Theatrical Studios under the direction of V. E. Meyerhold; in 1926 he joined the company of the V. E. Meyerhold Theater. From 1938 to 1941 he worked in the Vakhtangov Theater, and from 1943 in the Moscow Mayakov-sky Theater. In his early career as an actor, Sverdlin interpreted his roles in a superficial and at times exaggerated manner; such were his interpretations of the Acrobat in Erdman’s Mandate and the Boatman in Tret’iakov’s Bellow, China!

In later years, by developing precise and expressive methods of characterization through effective use of outward appearance, Sverdlin achieved great dramatic force in his psychological interpretations, often giving them symbolic significance, for example, as Nunbach in German’s Introduction. A true understanding of modern life and insight into the spiritual world of his characters allowed him to successfully portray Stepanov in Aleshin’s Director, Pavel Mikhailovich in Pogodin’s Petrarch’s Sonnet and Il’ia Zhurbin in Kochetov and Kar’s The Zhurbins. His best roles in the classical repertoire included Schastlivtsev and Tikhon in Ostrovskii’s The Forest and The Storm and Polo-nius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Sverdlin also played Azdak in Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle.

Sverdlin also appeared in films. His best film roles included Colonel Usijima in Volochaevsk Days (1937), Sukhe-Bator in His Name Is Sukhe-Bator (1942), Nasreddin in Nasreddin in Bukhara (1943), Val’ko in The Young Guard (1948), Alitet in Alitet Leaves for the Mountains (1950), and Zalkind in Far From Moscow (1950). Sverdlin was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1947, 1949, 1951), the Order of Lenin, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and a medal.


Razgovors tovarishchempo iskusstvu. Moscow, 1960.


Kisel’gof, Ia. “Lev Sverdlin.” In the collection Aktery sovetskogo kino. Leningrad, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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