Zhivokini, Vasilii Ignatevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Zhivokini, Vasilii Ignat’evich


Born 1805, in Moscow; died there Jan. 18 (30), 1874. Russian actor. Son of an Italian who lived in Russia and a Russian serf dancer.

On graduating from the Moscow Theatrical School (where he studied ballet, drama, and violin) in 1825, Zhivokini became a member of the Malyi Theater troupe. At first he had small parts in plays, danced in ballets, and played in the orchestra. Zhivokini’s artistic career reached its highest point in the 1840’s and 1850’s. Performing with enormous success in comedies and vaudeville, he created the characters of cheerful and good-natured simpletons. A brilliant master of improvisation, Zhivokini sometimes ad-libbed on timely subjects during the course of a play, or addressed a question to someone in the audience, and the like. At the same time, his acting had elements of comic exaggeration and buffoonish grotesqueness. Some of his best parts were Zemlianika and Podkolesin in Gogol’s The Inspector-General and The Marriage, respectively, Gradoboev in A. N. Ostrovskii’s The Fiery Heart, Grumio in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, Argan in Moliere’s The Imaginary Invalid, Lev Gurych Sinichkin in D. T. Lenski’s vaudeville of the same name, and Mordashev in Fedorov’s Ai and Pert. He also sang in operettas and operas.


“Iz moikh vospominanii.” Biblioteka teatra i iskusstva. St. Petersburg, February 1914, Book 2, pp. 3–31.


Markov, P. “Malyi teatr tridtsatykh i sorokovykh godov.” In the collection Moskovskii Malyi teatr, 1824–1924. Moscow, 1924. Pages 198–202.
Dmitriev, lu. “Moskovskogo Malogo teatra artist Zhivokini.” Teatr, 1960, no. 9.


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