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Людмила Гурченко

Lyudmila Markovna Gurchenko (Russian: Людмила Марковна Гурченко, November 12, 1935 - March 30, 2011) was a popular Soviet and Russian actress, singer and entertainer. Lyudmila was born in Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR. Part of her childhood was spent under German occupation of Ukraine. She moved to Moscow to attend the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK) and achieved overnight fame and celebrity status at 21 after she starred in young Eldar Ryazanov's 1956 directorial debut, musical Carnival Night. The film was enormously popular and made Lyudmila famous overnight. Throughout the next two years she toured the entire country with her Carnival Night-inspired musical numbers, attracting crowds of fans. In the mid 1970s Gurchenko starred in several films, which, although moderately successful, helped showcase Lyudmila's dramatic talent. Finally, in 1979 she landed a role in director Andrei Konchalovsky's Siberiade and in 1982 in Station for Two, once again by Eldar Ryazanov, who by then had become one of USSR's most popular and prolific directors. The role of the forty-something waitress Vera in this touching film became Gurchenko's long-awaited comeback as a superstar of Soviet film. She has since starred in several more movies and TV shows. Her multifaceted talent has been recognized on many occasions. She received the title of People's Artist of the USSR, the highest honour that could be bestowed to a musical artist, in 1983. In 2000, she was awarded the 4th Degree Order for the Service to the Motherland, one of the highest civil decorations in post-Soviet Russia (with 3rd and 2nd Degree Orders having been awarded to only very few extremely distinguished individuals, and the 1st Degree Order being nominally held by a serving President of Russia). At age 70, Lyudmila still acted in the theater, and was frequently seen attending galas, appearing on TV talk shows, and performing at concerts. She maintained her iconic status, especially among the older generations, but was often a subject of jokes among younger audiences due to her over-the-top public persona and her deliberately "youthful" image. Lyudmila Gurchenko died in her Moscow flat on 30 March 2011. Russian president Medvedev said "Her death is a great loss for Russian culture," and Putin, the prime minister expressed sympathy to her family and relatives.

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