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Russian holder of Guinness World Record as oldest professional actor on stage turns 100

Unbelievable. Zeldin, an actor since 1935, will be celebrating his centenary on Tuesday night by performing on the stage of the Russian Army Theater in Moscow
Vladimir Zeldin on stage ITAR-TASS/Vyacheslav Prokofyev
Vladimir Zeldin on stage
© ITAR-TASS/Vyacheslav Prokofyev

MOSCOW, February 10. /TASS/. Soviet and Russian lifetime theatre and film legend, Vladimir Zeldin, already featuring in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest professional actor still on stage, is 100 on Tuesday.

Unbelievable. Zeldin, an actor since 1935 after graduating from the Mossovet Theater’s school in Moscow, will be celebrating his centenary on Tuesday night by performing on the stage of the Russian Army Theater (formerly the Central Theater of the Red Army), where he has spent 70 years of his artistic career.

"I will simply treat the audience once again to what I have been doing with pleasure throughout my life," Zeldin told TASS, while previewing his upcoming appearance in the gala show called "100, or Dancing with Time," as staged by well-known Russian stage and film director Yuly Gusman.

Zeldin told TASS he had spent quite a while rehearsing for tonight’s show every day. The last rehearsal was Monday night, on the eve of his 100th jubilee.

Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Sergey Ivanov, the chief of the Russian presidential staff, will be in the audience among Russian culture celebrities and public figures.

Zeldin’s outstanding talent, youthful vigour and enormous contribution to culture in Russia were praised by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who addressed the legendary actor with a message of greeting.

"Your hard work, your firm character, and your unique experience have let you retain through the years the soul of a young man, your generous talent, your ever-lasting optimism and kindness," Putin wrote in his message of birthday greetings to Zeldin. "Today you are still in great demand as an actor and keep surprising your admirers with impeccable artistic temper."

Born on February 10, 1915 in Russia’s Tambov Region, Zeldin won nationwide acclaim following his iconic role in a 1941 film ‘The Swine Girl and the Shepherd.’ In this famous pre-war Soviet musical comedy Zeldin, an ethnic Jew, appeared as a hot-blooded Dagestani shepherd Musalib Gatuev, who falls madly in love with Glasha Novikova, a Russian girl from a northern rural village, during a brief meeting in Moscow at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (currently VDNKh). Zeldin's acting was so emotional and true-to-life that every single viewer was certain the actor was an ethnic Dagestani, born in the North Caucasus.

Although to a large extent Zeldin owes his popularity to roles played on screen - and he boasts over 60 roles in films and TV series - he invariably remained committed to his career in the theatre. Russian culture experts unanimously refer to him as the ‘Patriarch of the Russian Theater.