Vasily Kachalov (Shverubovich) was born on February 11, 1875 in the city in the family of a clergyman. People's Artist of the USSR. One of the most prominent actors of the Moscow Art Theater
Vasily Shverubovich, who became widely known as Vasily Kachalov, was born in Vilnius, Vilna Governorate. While studying at the preparatory school, he acquired a reputation for reciting and acting, participated in amateur performances. In 1893, he entered the law faculty of St. Petersburg University, where he performed in the Student-led theatrical circle. By this time, young artist became friends with Feodor Chaliapin, who persuaded him to choose the theatrical career. According to one of the versions, it was the singer that suggested Vasily adopting a pseudonym, which was without delay found in newspaper ads. Thus, Shverubovich became Kachalov.
In 1896, he became an actor in the St. Petersburg Theater of the Literary and Artistic Society, later performed in Kazan and Saratov as the member of the Kazan-Saratov Association of Actors.
In 1900, he was enlisted to the troupe of the Moscow Art Theater and debuted as Berendey in “The Snow Maiden”. Soon he dubbed Konstantin Stanislavsky in the roles of Trigorin and Vershinin (“The Seagull”, “Three Sisters”), and within a few years became one of the leading actors of the theatre. Stanislavsky wrote that as an actor he yield precession to Kachalov. All his life Kachalov perfected his artistic skills. During his serving at the Moscow Art Theater, Vasily Kachalov played more than 50 major roles. The performance of Kachalov in the role of the Baron in the play " The Lower Depths” shocked the author. Maxim Gorky said, "This is much more and deeper than what I wrote." Interestingly, Vasily Ivanovich was playing the role of the Baron on stage for 45 years.
Vasily Kachalov was an actor without typecasting. He played with equal success Pimen in “Boris Godunov”, Glumov in “Enough Simplicity for Every Wise Man”, and Alexandr Chatsky in “Woe from Wit”.
In Moscow, the actor led the Bohemian style life of the Silver Age. Ivan Bunin caricatured him in the story "Clean Monday". Sergei Yesenin wrote the famous poem "To the Kachalov Dog", which begins with the words "Give me, Jim, the paw for happiness." Kachalov was on friendly terms with Anatoly Marienhof that wrote about the actor in his biographical novels. Friendship with Maria Andreeva resulted in the fact that for several years his mailing address was used by Bolsheviks, members of the underground organization for information sharing on.
After the Revolution, the theatre toured abroad, visiting the European and American cities. Returning to Russia in 1924, Vasily Ivanovich continued working in Moscow - totally, he had been serving at the stage of the Moscow Art Theater for 47 years. His first major work on the stage after 1917 is associated with the Soviet play “Armoured Train 14-69” by Vsevolod Ivanov. In this performance, Vasily Kachalov played a Siberian irregular fighter.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary of October revolution, Kachalov was awarded with the title of People's Artist of the RSFSR, later with the Order of the Red Banner of Labour, the title of People's Artist of the USSR and the Order of Lenin. People say that Stalin admired Kachalov's performance, so when the actor’s health gave way, Kachalov was send to the Kremlin hospital. However, doctors failed to cure him from oncology.
For many years, the actor gave concerts of dramatic recital before the lights and on the radio. He had highest regard for audio recording. His repertoire was immensely huge - IIohann Wolfgang Goethe, Alexander Pushkin, Alexander Blok, Leo Tolstoy, Anton Chekhov, Mikhail Lermontov, Maxim Gorky, Vladimir Mayakovsky. He created special genre of performance of dramatic pieces - "arrangement", in which he played several roles. During his latest years, he became interested in reading modern poetry from the stage.
Kachalov had been living with his wife Nina for forty-eight years. Vasily Kachalov died in September 1948. Before his death, he told his wife: "There is no curiosity; hence there is no fear either".