Leonid Utyosov (Lazar Weissbein) was born in Odessa on March 9, 1895. At the age of 14, he worked in traveling circus for a short period, then he returned to Odessa and learned to play violin. In 1912, the Kremenchug Theater of Miniatures employed him. It was the time when he took the stage name Utyosov.
Since 1913 he played in Odessa repertory company of K. Rozanov (Bolshoi and Mali Richelieu theaters), in Kherson theater of miniatures.
In 1917, Leonid Utyosov was ranked the best in the Gomel competition of satirical songs performers, then he moved to Moscow and created Chamber Musical Theatre team, with which he performed at the Hermitage theatre.
In 1921, he joined the troupe of the TheatRevSat (Theatre of Revolutionary Satire). The Art Council headed by Vladimir Mayakovski and Demyan Bedny directed it. He tried himself as a satirist for the first time there, continuing to play in operettas and performances of the Free form theater.
In 1928, Leonid Osipovich, during his trip to Paris, was completely fascinated by jazz. In 1930 a concert was held, in which Utyosov included orchestral fantasias of Isaac Dunaevsky. In 1934, the film "Jolly Fellows" was released, where Leonid Osipovich starred with the musicians of his orchestra. Everyone sang the shepherd’s songs from “Jolly Fellows” that became extremely popular. A few years after, the sound of the picture was upgraded; Vladimir Troshin covered the songs. A legend existed that Utyosov refused to redub. However, in 1966 Utyosov voice sounded in the movie again.
The movie was highly ranked by the country leaders. Even Stalin himself approved it. Success exceeded all expectations. The film was demonstrated abroad under the title "Moscow Laughs".
Charlie Chaplin wrote, “Before the Jolly Fellows, the Americans knew Russia of Dostoevsky. Now they saw great changes in the people’s psychology. People laugh. This is a victory. This fact persuade stronger than shoots and speeches".
Leonid Utyosov achieved unprecedented success in acting skills. His personal program "From tragedy to Trapeze" was compiled of all types of acting skills. Posters pasted in the town, reported, “The Palace Theater invites everyone to an exemplary intermedia evening performance by Leonid Utyosov.”. The main slogan was "In the performance “From Tragedy to Trapeze” Utyosov shows all kind of things...". The performance began at eight PM and lasted until two AM.
According to the witnesses’ statements, it was the unforgettable spectacle. The scene with the investigator from the "Crime and Punishment" by Dostoevsky was beginning the show. Utyosov acted as Raskolnikov, and a talented dramatic actor Kondrat Yakovlev acted as Porphyry Petrovich. After this scene, the first act from the operetta Helen of Troy by Jacques Offenbach was shown.
Thus, the original from Odessa performed professionally in all spheres. Hence, he considered the concert activity to be his main business. During the Great Patriotic War Ustinov’s songs sounded on all fronts. Many times, he performed for the soldiers. Repeatedly during such concerts, his team got in dangerous situations and air-raid reliefs.
Leonid Ustinov’s orchestra presented two La-5F aircrafts to the 5th Guards Fighter regiment. The planes were called "Jolly Fellows".
In the postwar years, Utyosov performed with his orchestra. In 1965, Utyosov – the first variety art artist was awarded with the title of The People's artist of the Soviet Union.
Leonid Osipovich died on March 9, 1982 in Moscow.
The material is based on the revised texts from the popular science publication "A Hundred of the Greatest Vocalists"; LLC "Publishing house "Veche", Moscow
The scientific studies of Alana Zaikova