Academician of The Russian Academy of Arts.
Outstanding Soviet and Russian Actor of Theater and Films, Stage Director and Screenwriter. Art Director of the Moscow Theater of Satire. People’s Artist of the USSR (1989), Theatrical Spring ’74 Art Festival Second Prize Winner, Golden Ostap Award Winner. Companion of the Order of Friendship, Order of Merit for the Fatherland (2nd and 4th class), Honorary Badge of Public Recognition.
Alexander Shirvindt was born on June 19, 193A in Moscow. He spent his childhood in the centre of Moscow in an old house on Skaterny lane near Nikitskiye Gates. His mother Raisa was an actress at the Moscow Art Theatre and later worked as an editor at the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra. His father was a violinist that once performed with the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and later worked as professor at music school.
His childhood memories are inextricably connected with theater. Many outstanding people of art were guests in his parents’ home: Vladmir Yakhontov, Yakov Flier, Dmitry Zhuravlev, Vasily Kachalov, Rostislav Plyatt, Rina Zelyonaya, Leonid Utyosov… His world was filled with theater. Being a schoolboy Alexander already wanted to become an artist. In 1952 he entered the Boris Schukin Drama School and started studying in the Vera Lvova class, From the very beginning he proved to be a gifted student. In 1956 Shirvindt graduated magna cum laude from «Schuka» and joined the troupe of the Film Actor Theater Studio. In 1957 he became a part of Mosfilm and made his debut in She Loves You, a comedy film produced by Semen Derevyansky and Rafail Suslovich. Later this year Shirvindt joined the Lenin’s Komsomol Theater and made his first stage performance in the role of a white movement officer. It was The First Horse Army play written by Vsevolod Vishnevsky and directed by B.N. Nord. Then there were such performances as Comrades and Romantics by M. Sobol, Good Bye, Boys! by B. Baiter, You Are 22 Old Chaps! by E. Radzinsky, When Acacia Blooms by N. Vinnikov, Bag of Stickers by D. Ugryumov, Attack Center Will Die at Dawn by A. Kussani, About Lermontov by 0. Remez and T. Chebotaryova, Saint Joan by B. Shaw
But real success came after his characters in Anatoly Efros’ spectacles: Trigorin (The Seagull by A. Chekhov), Ludovic (Moliere by M. Bulgakov), Guderian (To Each His Own by S. Alyoshin), Felix and Film Director Nechayev (704 Pages about Love and The Filming by E. Radzinsky).
Alexander Shirvindt worked with Anatoly Efros at the Malaya Bronnaya Theater for two years. During this period of time his best works were Happy Days of Unhappy Man directed by A. Arbuzov and Romeo and Juliet by A. Efros
Being a student Alexander Shirvindt was engaged in many amateur concert parties. Later, during his years at the Leninsky Komsomol Theater he started arranging and holding such events at the Actor’s House. Shirvindt was a director, actor and master of ceremonies at the same time. These concerts were warmly welcomed among the audience. Performances repeated two times a day but it was still very hard to find a ticket. It was a real satirical theater of miniatures. Actors mocked falseness, swank, bungling and ignorance. Professional theatres, cinema and literature preferred to ignore all these vices. Back then all criticism was considered a lie and a try to revile the state order. After the Moscow premiere every new performance was shown in Leningrad.
In 1970 Alexander Shirvindt was welcomed at the Moscow Theater of Satire. Here he performed more than 30 roles, directed many spectacles and finally became a theater director in December 2000.
From his early days at the Theater of Satire Shirvindt became engaged in the stage direction. Together with Mark Zakharov they produced a spectacle called Wake Up and Sing! based upon the play written by M. Dyarfash.
During his work at the Theater of Satire Alexander directed more than 10 spectacles including Little Comedies of a Big House (together with Andrei Mironov), The Minor, Her Excellency, Passions of Black Sea, Andryusha (written together with Arkady Arkanov), Too Married Taxi Driver, Shvejk or Anthem to Idiocy (based on the books byJaroslav Hashek), Women with No Limits (written by Yuri Polyakov).
Alexander Shirvindt enjoyed a very long and successful career in cinema: Chess Club President in The Twelve Chairs, Save the Drowning Man, Once Again for Love, Crash, You’ve Got Such a Pretty Smile, Heavenly Swallows, Incognito from Petersburg, The Imaginary Invalid… Among the all-time favorite of the audience was an incomparable trio of Alexander Shirvindt, Andrei Mironov and Mikhail Derzhavin in the flamboyant comedy Three Man in a Boat Excluding a Dog.
Yet his best character at that moment was one of Zhenya Lukashin’s friends in the Eldar Ryazanov comedy The Irony of Fate or Enjoy Your Bath. This role made him famous in the Soviet Union. Besides The Irony of Fate Shirvindt took part in some others Ryazanov’s films. In The Railway Station for Two he appeared in the role of Shurik, a ballroom pianist from a railway station restaurant. In A Forgotten Tune for the Flute he was Myasoedov, the Official. In Old Men: Robbers Shirvindt turned into Minister’s Consultant.
The period of 1980s is the time of his most prominent works. A charismatic gambler called Leonid Papagatto from a Vsevolod Shilovsky satirical comedy A Million in a Wedding Basket was supposed to be his most famous character.
Along with his theater and film projects Alexander Shirvindt is engaged in teaching. From 1958 he is a professor at the Boris Schukin Drama School in Moscow.
«Shirvindt is not a surname. Shirvindt is a phenomenon. Shirvindt is a diagnosis,» — his friends say.
Mark Zakharov once noticed that the field of theater and cinema was always too small for Alexander Shirvindt. This actor, writer, pedagogue, director and head of the Theater of Satire seems to be a man of a unique profession. «He is Alexander Shirvindt. And that says everything!»