Alexander Nikolaevich Vertinsky (March 21, 1889 -- May 21, 1957) -- film actor, composer, poet, famous Russian chansonnier of the 20th century.
Was born in Kiev. He was the illegitimate son of a private attorney journalist Nikolai Vertinsky. The boy's mother, Evgenia Skolatskaya, a noblewoman by birth, gave birth to two children of Vertinsky. After the early death of their parents, the children grew up in different adoptive families.
For academic failure and inappropriate behavior, Sasha was he was flunked out of several gymnasiums. The relationships with adoptive parents did not work out.
Alexander began performing in amateur productions When he was rather young. Sasha snatched at every opportunity to earn for living. He was a porter, vender, a proofreader in printing house, an accountant in a hotel.
Alexander met Sofya Zelinskaya, his mother's friend. Vertinsky filled up the gaps in his education, met Marc Chagall, Casimir Malevich, Nathan Altman and other talented people in her house. At the same time, Vertinsky began earning money in newspapers, publishing his own stories, thanks to which he gained definite publicity in the city. In 1913, Vertinsky, in the pursuance of fame left for Moscow. The theatrical career of Alexander Vertinsky began in small studios and amateur theaters. In the same 1913, Vertinsky tried to take to the Moscow Art Theatre stage, but the great Konstantin Stanislavsky did not accept Alexander because of his diction: Vertinsky pronounced his "r's" in the French manner. He made a shot at the cinema as well.
The cinema career was interrupted by the war. At the end of 1914, Alexander volunteered for the war as medical orderly and spent there about a year. He himself wrote about this period: “I quickly mastered the technique of applying a bandage and amazed even doctors with dexterity and cleanliness of work. I was called Brother Pierrot, or simply Pierosha, and almost no one knew my last name”. In January 1915, the singer and actor was wounded and returned to Moscow. There, Vertinsky learned about the death of his sister, according to some reports, due to a drug overdose.
The popularity of Vertinsky as Pierrot in this period was beyond all boundaries; his performances always got approval even from the most severe critics. His miniatures, "Songs of Pierrot", romances "Crystal Requiem", "Yellow Angel" and “Cockaigne" aroused admiration among listeners. Vertinsky used his own poems, the lyrics of Alexander Blok, Igor Severyanin and Marina Tsvetaeva for his compositions.
At that time, he met Vera Kholodnaya, a former dancer, the future first Russian film star. Biographers wrote about their off-the-books romance. However, it is no secret that many of his first songs, including one of the most famous compositions "Your fingers smell like incense", Alexander dedicated to her.
By 1917, Alexander Vertinsky was already very popular and successfully toured throughout the country. Despite the fame that he managed to get at home, in 1920 the artist decided to emigrate. Chansonnier argued that political reasons had nothing to do with it: he did not feel hatred for the Soviet regime; he simply had a thirst for adventure and new experiences.
He traveled a lot and for a long time. In subsequent years, Paris, Berlin, even Palestine became the home for Alexander. Everywhere Vertinsky continued to sing to the full house. Admirers of the Alexander's talent were in any city of the world. Vertinsky moved freely between countries thanks to the fact that he received (apparently, not quite legally) the Greek passport.
During his stay in Poland, the artist met a girl from wealthy Jewish family named Rachel Potocka. They got married, after the wedding Rachel took the name Irena Vertidis (such surname was in the Greek passport of Vertinsky). The marriage lasted about seven years, although officially the couple that was married in 1923, they officially divorced only in 1941.
The most productive period in Vertinsky creative life was during his stay in France, when the majority of his best songs were created. He performed in Paris in very prestigious locations. He made friends with Fyodor Chaliapin and Ivan Mosjoukine, ballerinas Anna Pavlova and Tamara Karsavina. Communicated with the world stars Marlene Dietrich, Greta Garbo and Charlie Chaplin. In his memoirs, Vertinsky cites curious incident: in Paris, an unfamiliar English gentleman asked him to perform his favorite song, the name of which he did not remember. According to the melody sung by the gentleman, Vertinsky recognized his "Tango", and performed it. The gentleman was very pleased. Only the next day did Alexander learn that the stranger was the Prince of Wales himself. In Paris, he created, perhaps, his best songs "Madam Irena", "In the blue and faraway ocean", "Concerto Sarasate", "Hispano-Suiza", "Madame, the leaves are already falling", "Tango Magnolia", "Piccolo Bambino", "Marlene" and “Yellow Angel".
In the mid-30s, Vertinsky left for America, where he had enthusiastic welcome from the Russian-speaking audience. Marlene Dietrich introduced the performer to significant people in Hollywood, to directors and producers. Vertinsky had some ambitions about filming a Hollywood movie, but this did not work out – his English language was not fluent enough.
His next place of residence was China, where the singer met his second wife, a young Georgian Lidia Tsirgvava, the daughter of the director of the Chinese Eastern Railway department. The age gap between the beloved was rather large - Vertinsky was 51 years old, the girl of his choice was 17.
For many years Vertinsky attempted to return to the USSR (during his emigration, he repeatedly applied to the authorities with this request) and had already received permission, but the paperwork was stalled.
The family moved to Moscow during the war in 1943. The artist began performing at the front. After the end of the war, he was touring throughout the country. However, he bumped up against the negative attitude from the authorities: although he returned to his homeland, he was considered "the runaway".
Vertinsky performed until the end of his life - the last time he appeared at the Leningrad stage was on May 21, 1957, the same evening he died of acute heart failure in the Astoria Hotel. The singer was 68 years old. The grave of Vertinsky grave is at the Novodevichy cemetery.
34-year-old Lydia Vertinskaya, having become a widow, never remarried. She died at the age of 90; she was buried next to her husband. Both Vertinsky daughters became famous actresses.