Petr Shelokhonov, Lensoveta Theatre, Leningrad, 1980-s

Honorable Actor of Russia

Petr Shelokhonov

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Petr (Peter) Shelokhonov was born in 1929, in Belarus. His ancestors came from Lithuania, from Ukraine and from Poland. Petr was destined to practice medicine, like his father, but his fate was changed by war.

Petr Shelokhonov survived the Nazi occupation during WWII. The Nazis arrested Petr and he was severely wounded in his forehead but he escaped and survived. Then he joined the partisans in the woods. There Petr Shelokhonov had his first acting experience. He was performing parodies of Hitler and the Nazis to his fellow partisans. His performances helped lift their spirits in a time when they were struggling to survive. This experience accentuated his humble, modest character. The scar on his forehead, the mark of war, made his acting career seem like an impossible dream; but Petr was determined. He made puppets and a screen, and worked in his own puppet theater from 1943 - 1945. In his show titled "Peter and the Wolf" he managed to lead four puppets with four voices, and also played the accordion. He performed for bread and rare food packages from the American airlift, and he was very lucky to survive until the end of WWII.

In 1945 he became a piano student at the Kiev Conservatory of Music, he also played the accordion on stage. Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Sergei Rachmaninoff were his favorites as well as the music of Glenn Miller, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and other stars from the Voice of America radio shows. Eventually he became a stand-up comedian in Leningrad. There, in 1949, he was drafted in the Red Navy and served in the Baltic Fleet for five years. There he was arrested for telling a political joke and was detained in a strict guardhouse.

After the death of Stalin, Shelokhonov was discharged from service. He managed to survive the roughest realities of life under Soviet dictatorship; but when his free spirited humor angered the hard liners again, many doors closed. After that, Petr's acting career was limited to Siberia. He moved to the Siberian city of Irkutsk and graduated from Irkutsk Drama School. He worked at the Irkutsk Drama Theater in the 1950s, then at the Chekhov's Drama Theatre in the city of Taganrog in the 1960s, then returned to Leningrad in 1968. There, after a few successful appearances on television, he made his big screen debut as spy Sotnikov in Razvyazka (1969) but the movie was banned by the Soviet government and the filmmakers were censored, albeit Shelokhonov survived again thanks to his talent. He spent most of his professional acting career in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

Petr Shelokhonov played leading and supporting roles in Russian and international films, and his filmography includes over 80 roles in film and on television. His film and stage partners were such actors as Kirill Lavrov, Ivan Krasko, Natalya Fateeva, Sophie Marceau, Sean Bean, and other stars. He also played over 100 roles on stage in Russian and International theater productions. He played the leading role (Sam) in Photo Finish, written and directed by Peter Ustinov. Petr Shelokhonov was designated Honorable Actor of Russia (1979).

Petr Shelokhonov passed away in 1999, and was laid to rest in St. Petersburg, Russia. Books about him were published in Russia and in the USA.



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