Alla Larionova

Alla Larionova, a legendary actress of the Russian screen whose beauty captivated the public in the 1950s and ’60s, died in Moscow on April 25. She was 69.

Though the Soviet film world of that era didn’t embrace the term “sex symbol,” Larionova effectively occupied such a role for her devoted audiences. She was continually in the public eye, often seen in the company of — and, tacitly, romantically linked to — the likes of cosmonaut Yury Gagarin and others.

Nor was her beauty noticed only at home: Charlie Chaplin approached the Soviet authorities with a formal request to work with her. It was turned down.

In 1953, Larionova at age 22 sprang to fame in the year of her graduation from Moscow’s VGIK film institute for her first role, Lyubava in Alexander Ptushko’s “Sadko,” which won the top prize at Venice.

A year later, she played the part for which she is most remembered, Anna in “The Order of Anna,” an adaptation from Chekhov by director Isidor Annensky. The film led local box office figures for 1954.

Other later roles included Olivia in “Twelfth Night” (1955), Natasha in “The Three Sisters” (1965), and, with a more profound psychological depth rare in her repertoire, the dying heroine of “Wild Honey” (1967).

Her marriage of 33 years to film actor Nikolai Rybnikov heightened the couple’s public profile. Between 1958 (“The Witches”) and 1988 (“The Forbidden Zone”), Larionova and Rybnikov starred together in 10 films.

After Rybnikov’s death in 1990, Larionova continued to work, playing her last film role five years ago. She continued to tour widely after that. giving concert performances and receiving special tributes.

Following such an appearance in the town of Belgorod, she became ill with heart problems and died days later in Moscow in her sleep.

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