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On November 6, the satirist, People’s Artist of Russia Mikhail Zhvanetsky, passed away. The main milestones of his biography are in the article.

Mikhail Zhvanetsky – an engineer by education, and a satirist by vocation – became the voice of his generation. His monologues have long been disassembled into quotes and entered the colloquial language, as well as the aphorisms of the classics of the 19th century: “It is difficult to enter history, but it is easy to slip into history”, “An optimist believes that we live in the best of worlds. The pessimist is afraid that this is how it is ”,“ The writer has not disappeared because of television, but the reader has disappeared ”,“ There are a lot of talents, there is no one to work ”,“ What is quickly lifted does not count as fallen ”.

Satirical engineer

Mikhail Mikhailovich (real patronymic – Manievich) Zhvanetsky was born in Odessa in the family of doctors Raisa and Mane Zhvanetsky. He was seven years old when the Great Patriotic War began. The Zhvanetsky family was evacuated to Tashkent, where Mane Zhvanetsky became the chief doctor of the hospital. In 1944, as soon as Odessa was liberated, the family returned.

After school, Mikhail Zhvanetsky entered the Odessa Institute of Marine Engineers. During his studies, he and his friends, Roman Kartsev and Viktor Ilchenko, organized the student theater of miniatures “Parnas-2”. The name was invented by Zhvanetsky himself – by analogy with the legendary mountain in Greece, where, according to myths, muses live. During his studies at the institute, he conducted concerts – at first with Ilchenko, and after a while began performing himself with monologues and miniatures. He presented the most serious topics in such a way that the audience could not help laughing.

After graduation, Zhvanetsky worked in his specialty. Since 1956, he worked for several years in the Odessa port, but continued to perform on stage.

“My autobiography for presentation to different organizations, no matter how I stretch it, fits on one page,” wrote Mikhail Zhvanetsky in his book Collected Works in One Volume.

Author of monologues

In 1960, a fateful meeting took place. One of his concerts was attended by Arkady Raikin, who came to Odessa on a tour with the Leningrad Theater of Miniatures. He liked Zhvanetsky’s monologues so much that he offered him a move to Leningrad and work in the theater.

Zhvanetsky’s miniatures performed by Raikin were a huge success. In 1969, the actor proposed to make a separate program “Traffic Light” in the theater, consisting of Zhvanetsky’s monologues. To work on the program, he attracted his old friends from Odessa Roman Kartsev and Viktor Ilchenko.

In 1970, all three decided to return to their hometown and create their own miniature theater. After a while, they toured Rostov-on-Don, where they were awaited by overwhelming success. The head of the Ukrconcert invited them to move to Kiev, but they returned to Odessa.

In his hometown, Mikhail Zhvanetsky was admitted to the Philharmonic as an artist of the spoken genre. And in 1972 he was invited to the Moscow Theater of Miniatures as an assistant to the chief director.

Recognition in Moscow

In 1988, Mikhail Zhvanetsky opened his own theater – the Moscow Theater of Miniatures, of which he was the permanent artistic director until recently. Based on his works, the plays “Selected”, “Bird Flight”, “Sincerely Yours”, “My Odessa”, “Political Cabaret”, “Benefit”, “Old Tomboy” were staged. The monologues he created “Hello, this is Baba Yaga”, “Life is short”, “A word of three letters” are still popular.

His miniatures were performed by Sergei Yursky, Arkady Raikin, Viktor Ilchenko, Roman Kartsev, Lyubov Polishchuk and many other pop artists. It is enough to list the names of these numbers to make a smile appear on your face: “In the Greek Hall”, “Avas”, “Meeting at the distillery”, “Steam locomotive for the driver”, “Careful …”, “Fine, Gregory! Excellent, Constantine! “

Mikhail Zhvanetsky has written nearly a dozen books. Among them are “Meetings on the Streets” (1982), “Two Years” (1987), “My Odessa” (1993), “Odessa Dachas” (2007), “Do not continue short” (2010). The last lifetime edition was published in 2014 – the collection “Southern Summer (read in the North)”.

In 2002, Mikhail Zhvanetsky became the host of the author’s television program “Duty in the Country”, which was shown monthly for 17 years. The program has twice become a laureate of the Russian national television award “TEFI” – in 2006 and 2011. The last episode of the program aired on December 1, 2019.


Mikhail Zhvanetsky received the title of Honored Artist of Russia in 2001. In early 2002, he became a laureate of the President of the Russian Federation Prize in the field of literature and art. In 2012 he was awarded the title of People’s Artist of Russia.

In 1994, Mikhail Zhvanetsky became a Knight of the Order of Friendship of Peoples for his services in the field of pop art.

He was awarded the Order of Merit for the Fatherland twice. In 2009, he was awarded the IV degree order for merits in the field of cinematographic, musical, theatrical, choreographic and circus arts, in 2019 he became a holder of the III degree order for his great contribution to the development of Russian culture and art, many years of fruitful activity.

From 1990 until the end of his life, he was the permanent president of the World Club of Odessa citizens.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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