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Astangov, Mikhail Fedorovich
(pseudonym of M. F. Ruzhnikov). Born Oct. 21 (Nov. 3), 1900, in Warsaw; died Apr. 20, 1965, in Moscow. Soviet actor. People’s Artist of the USSR (1955).
Astangov began his theatrical career in 1920 at the Chaliapin Studio. He worked in the Moscow Theater of the Revolution (1925–27 and 1930–41) and the Mossovet Theater (1943–45). Beginning in 1945 he worked at the Vakhtangov Theater. Astangov’s creative work was closely related to psychological drama. A special combination of elevated emotionality and philosophical reflection characterized his heroes.
Among Astangov’s best roles were the life-asserting and poetical figure of a Communist organizer of the first five-year plan, Grigorii Gai (Pogodin’s My Friend, 1932), the character of Fedor Talanov (Leonov’s Invasion, 1943), and the tragic figure of the humanist Mattias Klauzen, a man of deep spiritual wisdom (Hauptmann’s Before Dawn, 1955). Astangov played the roles of Hamlet and Romeo in Shakespeare’s tragedies and Cyrano de Bergerac in the play of the same name by Rostand (1945). At the same time he created some brilliantly grotesque characters—Kerensky (Korneichuk’s Truth, 1937, and Sel’vinskii’s Big Kirill, 1957) and Hitler (in the film The Battle of Stalingrad). Astangov played the role of Captain Kostia in the film The Prisoners; he played a series of sharply portrayed character roles, such as the newspaper boss Macpherson (The Russian Question) and the German general Enekke (The Third Blow). One of his most interesting motion picture roles was that of Komorovskii in The Dream. Astangov was awarded the State Prize of the USSR (1948, 1950, 1951) and two orders.