Georgy Vitsin, 83, a beloved Russian film and theater actor, died Monday in a Moscow hospital. He was 83.
Vitsin was born in St. Petersburg, then named Petrograd. His first film roles date to the 1940s. He gained nationwide popularity in the former Soviet Union with the emergence of a series of 1960s comedies by director Leonid Gaidai.
He played the role of a coward among a trio of colorful, scheming characters in such Gaidai movies as "Bootleggers" (1962), "Operation Y and Other Adventures of Shurik" (1965) and the especially famous "Prisoner of Caucasus" (1967).
The trio of actors, including the late Yuri Nikulin and Yevgeny Morgunov, was "the most popular ensemble in the history of the national cinema," the Russian ITAR-Tass news agency noted in reporting Vitsin's death. In 1990, he was awarded the top artistic title of the Soviet era, that of People's Artist of the Soviet Union.