Ivan Mosjoukine, courtesy of Mary Mallory.
Note: This is an encore post from 2013 featuring the star of last week’s mystery movie.
Not as well known as other silent film stars like Douglas Fairbanks, Mary Pickford, Buster Keaton or Rudolph Valentino, the recently rediscovered Russian motion picture actor Ivan Mosjoukine ranks among the greats for his charismatic star turns in several 1920s French silent films. While a superstar in Russia and France, Mosjoukine acted in only one Hollywood feature, which eventually helped push him into obscurity. But, as writer Liam O’Leary stated, “What Nijinksy was to dance in Russia, so Mosjoukine was to film.”
Born in Penza, Russia, Sept. 26, 1889, to wealthy parents, Ivan Ilich Mozhukhin attended private schools before studying law in Moscow. Quickly enthralled by the flamboyant world of the theater, Mosjoukine joined a touring theatrical troupe to learn his new trade. Within a few years, he returned to Moscow and entered the Dramatic Theatre for serious work.
Also by Mary Mallory
Auction of Souls
Busch Gardens and Hogan’s Aristocratic Dreams
Mosjoukine began film acting in 1911 with the Khanzhonkov Company, starring in dramatic roles that emphasized his physical stage presence and sharp-featured good looks, finding time to occasionally write and produce films as well. Five years later, he studied and made films with Evgeni Bauer, learning to modulate his performing, to expertly apply makeup, and to fully inhabit his roles. Becoming one of Russia’s top romantic leads he frequently co-starred with his lovely, soon-to-be wife, Nathalie Lissenko, in such films as “Behind the Screen,” “Satan Triumphant” and “Father Sergius,” burying himself behind makeup, a Russian Lon Chaney.