Having met Marina Vladi, Vysotsky immediately said that she would become his wife
Her soft, very feminine beauty does not fade with age. Marina Vladi 10 years ago, when she was 75.
Photo: GLOBAL LOOK PRESS
For Russians, the main role of Marina Vladi is the role of the wife of Vladimir Vysotsky. At the same time, she is one of the most popular French actresses of the 50s and 60s, winner of the Cannes Film Festival prize for best actress, Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, star of films by Jean-Luc Godard, Orson Welles, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani… Vysotsky is one of four of her husbands, and Vladimir, or Interrupted Flight, is just one of more than ten of her books. Out of the spirit of contradiction, I would like to write a note in which Vysotsky would not be mentioned even once or would be mentioned in several lines, as in an article about her from the French Wikipedia, but … But, perhaps, it will not work. Still, the meeting with Vysotsky was probably the main event in her life.
Wife of actor and pilot
Her father, Vladimir Polyakov-Baidarov, was a vocalist with the Moscow Philharmonic and performed in opera. When the First World War began, he could not legally be taken into the Russian army – he was the only son of a widow. So he went to France (which was an ally of Russia) and signed up as a volunteer. Became a military pilot. And he never returned to Russia – a revolution happened.
He married an emigrant, Milica Envald, the daughter of a general, and they had four girls: Olga, Tanya, Milica and the youngest, Marina. The first became a television director, the rest were actresses. Everyone took pseudonyms, where the surnames began with the letter B: Olga Varen, Odile Versois, Helen Valle, Marina Vlady. They say this is because in French the word victoire begins with V – victory. But Marina took the name Vladi, first of all, in memory of her father.
By that time, she was already an actress – her debut took place when she was 10. And at 14 she went to Rome to star in the films of the Cinecitta studio. And two years later she appeared in the film by Giuseppe de Santis “Days of Love”, after which they started talking about her.
1965, IV Moscow International Film Festival. From left to right: pilot Jean-Claude Brouillet (at that time husband of Marina Vlady), Soviet pilot-cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, Marina Vlady and Soviet pilot-cosmonaut Pavel Belyaev. Two more years before meeting Vysotsky.
At 18, she played Sonya Marmeladova in the film adaptation of Crime and Punishment. The action was moved to France, the heroine was baptized as Lily Marcellin, and the film was not enthusiastic among critics. Raskolnikov (turned into Rene Brunel) was played by Robert Hossein. In December 1955, Marina became his wife. Robert, like his young wife, knew Russian well: his mother was a native of the Russian Empire.
Marina played in Ossein’s first film, “Bastards Go to Hell”, and in the next three. She bore him two sons, Pierre and Igor. But the marriage did not last even five years.
The second husband was Jean-Claude Bruyet, an aviator, a hero of the Resistance, an entrepreneur, 13 years older than Marina. In this marriage, the son Vladimir was born, named after her father. But this marriage also ended in divorce. And in 1967, Vladi came to Moscow, she was taken to the Taganka Theater, and there she saw another Vladimir.
“Ugly, poorly dressed”
It was a rehearsal of the play “Pugachev”. Vladi was “shocked by the strength, desperation, the extraordinary voice of the actor.” I wanted to get to know him. And then she didn’t recognize him when he approached her in a restaurant where Marina was having dinner with the actors who played in the play. Just an ugly, “short, poorly dressed young man”, in which only light gray eyes could attract attention. But then she realized that this is the same Vysotsky.
He said: “Finally, I met you,” took her hand, kissed it … “You are completely different from the roaring giant from the play, but you feel so much power in your eyes that I relive everything that I experienced in the theater.” And then Vysotsky said that he had loved her for a long time (the whole Soviet Union sobbed over the fate of the heroine Vlady in the French film The Witch based on Kuprin’s Olesya). And he said that she would be his wife. She soon realized that it must be so.
She even cooked borscht for him – as befitted the wife of a Soviet citizen. Photo: James Andanson/Sygma/Getty Images
In the turbulent 1968, against the backdrop of student unrest, Marina joined the French Communist Party. This made her in the USSR even more “her own”. And it helped her and her future husband a lot. The authorities dreamed that she, the daughter of an emigrant, would take Soviet citizenship, receive a permanent residence permit in Moscow … But she could not agree to this. And she came to the USSR to her beloved either as a tourist, or as an actress, then as a “temporarily resident” spouse …
In the book “Vladimir, or an Interrupted Flight” Vladi tells everything about her late husband. About how Vysotsky almost died when he started bleeding in his throat. About her husband’s drunkenness, which either faded or flared up, about an idiot friend who suggested that he treat his alcoholism with drugs. About gambling addiction, which did not really develop just because there was no casino in the USSR.
But there is much more in this book of love, and admiration, and sadness.
“She died with him”
She was married to Vysotsky for ten years. His death was a disaster for her. “She just died with him,” said Yulia Abdulova, daughter of Vysotsky’s closest friend Vsevolod Abdulov. But a man appeared who saved her – doctor Leon Schwarzenberg. He came every day, showing incredible perseverance, and eventually brought her out of the peak.
They lived together for 23 years. Vladi again became a widow in 2003: her husband contracted hepatitis C (he got injured during a blood transfusion to one of the patients), cirrhosis of the liver became a complication …
She now lives in the Paris suburb of Ivry-sur-Seine. She handed over the correspondence with Vysotsky to the RGALI, demanding that it be made available to the public after her death. And the rest of her archive was put up for auction in 2015, saying at the same time: “Things do not matter to me, I easily part with them.”
Everyone who knew and knows her spoke about her with warmth. “Marina never looked down on people,” recalled the same Yulia Abdulova. – From abroad, she always brought someone the necessary medicines, which were impossible to get here. She loved to give gifts. Came with huge bags. She can pick up a bird. Few people will jump into the hand of a sparrow. I jumped towards her.”