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Post: The glimmer of fame and sickness: how the famous Coward, Dunce, and Veteran broke up


MOSCOW, March 19 – RIA Novosti, Pavel Surkov. This famous trio was known and loved by the whole country: the films of Leonid Gaidai glorified Georgy Vitsin, Yuri Nikulin and Yevgeny Morgunov – Coward, Stupid and Experienced. After the films of Gaidai, the trio of actors also switched to the work of other directors – for example, to Eldar Ryazanov in “Give a Complaint Book” and to Yevgeny Karelov in the film “Seven Old Men and a Girl”.

Taken from the movie Operation Y and Shurik's other adventures
Filmed from the movie “Operation” Y “and other adventures of Shurik”

In fact, this work was the last appearance on the screen of the entire legendary trio: the artists, first of all – Yuri Nikulin, did not want to use the same screen masks. Yes, and personal relations between the three actors were deprived of on-screen friendship – each of them had his own life and creative destiny.

The three of them took part in only one joint creative work: they performed the audio tale “The event in the land of the Multi-Pulti”. In it, Cowardly, Stupid and Experienced, as in the legendary cartoon, appeared in the guise of unlucky robbers who opposed the Bremen Town Musicians, but, of course, left nothing.

Monument to Coward, Dunce, Experienced and director Gaidai opened in the center of Irkutsk - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Monument to Coward, Stupid, Experienced and Director Gaidai opened in the center of Irkutsk

Vitsin and Morgunov appeared on the screen several times together in the image of a Coward and the Experienced, for example, in the little-known film “Comedy of Bygone Days”, but these works did not achieve the same success.

Frame from the movie Prisoner of the Caucasus - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Shot from the movie “Prisoner of the Caucasus”

Yuri Nikulin was busy shooting a movie, but his favorite Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which he directed in 1982, remained his main work. It was Nikulin who succeeded in the construction of a new modern building for the circus, and indeed he was extremely worried about the fate of artists and all circus art in general.

Georgy Vitsin did not make any demands on Yuri Nikulin: he basically led a quiet and modest life, preferring not to trust anyone and not go against his own conscience. Even her own daughter forbade calling Nikulin, asking for tickets to the circus: if you want to go, buy tickets like everyone else.

Artist Yuri Nikulin - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Artist Yuri Nikulin

But the famous joker Yevgeny Morgunov once acted according to his own traditions: he asked Nikulin for double points. The director gave permission for two places, and the person asking added one to the duo and dragged as many as 12 people into the director’s box, which angered his colleague.

Nikulin died first – in 1997. Farewell to the master took place in the Circus arena on Tsvetnoy Boulevard, which later began to bear his name, and literally all of Moscow buried him. Yuri Vladimirovich found his last refuge in the famous Novodevichy cemetery.

Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin with his grandson and son during the celebration of the artist's 70th anniversary.  Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Yuri Vladimirovich Nikulin with his grandson and son during the celebration of the artist’s 70th anniversary. Circus on Tsvetnoy Boulevard in Moscow

Vitsin and Morgunov continued to periodically perform at national humorous concerts, tell stories from film sets and occasionally act in films. Morgunov’s most striking work in the “post-Byvalovsky” period was the role of the poet Soev in “Pokrovsky Gates”: in this film, he showed his talent for playing the piano, which few fans know about.

But an old disease (Morgunov was diabetic) made itself felt: the artist became increasingly difficult to walk, his legs swelled, sometimes he even went on stage at concerts in slippers. Morgunov was knocked down, and his son Nikolai died in a car accident.

Still from the movie Pokrovsky Gate
A frame from the movie “Pokrovsky Gate”

The eternal joker Morgunov stopped acting in films and died of a stroke in 1999. His funeral was modest, without much fanfare – and he found his last refuge in the Kuntsevo cemetery, next to his son’s grave.

Actor Yevgeny Morgunov and the clown Oleg Popov - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Actor Yevgeny Morgunov and clown Oleg Popov

Georgy Vitsin, the oldest of the trio, outlived his on-screen comrades. A long life – the actor lived 84 years – was facilitated by many years of yoga, vegetarianism and categorical rejection of alcohol.

Vitsin did not drink a drop of alcohol, even on the set of “Prisoner of the Caucasus” he drank only beer and immediately spat out the foamy drink as soon as the camera was turned off.

Georgy Vitsin - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
George Vitsin

Georgy Mikhailovich lived modestly in a small apartment in the Arbat district, regularly fed pigeons in the garden and housed an unfortunate hybrid that was attached to him until his last breath. Journalists sometimes actively wrote that Vitsin supposedly lived in poverty, but this was not so. The actor really did not allow himself to dress richly, he wore an old coat and a modest hat, he hated shaving – but he did this not out of any lack of money, but precisely because of the natural modesty of the character.

Actor Georgy Vitsin as the Coward in The Caucasian Prisoner - RIA Novosti, 1920, 19.03.2023
Actor Georgy Vitsin as the Coward in the movie “Prisoner of the Caucasus”

In principle, Vitsin never turned to doctors: he sincerely believed in traditional medicine and never took pills. At his funeral in 2001, the pigeons that the artist loved so much were released into the sky.

And Vitsin found his last refuge at the Vagankovsky cemetery. The family erected a modest monument on the grave of the artist – a marble slab on which the name of the actor and the dates of his life are inscribed, nothing superfluous, very simple, as Vitsin lived.

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Source: Ria

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