Early life and education
Nikolay Konstantionovich Simonov was born on December 4, 1901, in Samara, Russia. From 1917–1919 he studied art at Samara School of Art and Design. From 1919–1923 he studied art at the Imperial Academy of Arts. From 1922–1924 he studied acting at the Saint Petersburg State Theatre Arts Academy, from which he graduated with honors in 1924.
Simonov made his film debut in 1924 and played supporting roles in five Russian silent films. He shot to fame after his role of Commander Zhikharev in the classic film Chapaev (1934) by the Vasilyev brothers.
Simonov's portrayal of Peter the Great in The Conquests of Peter the Great (1937 and 1938) brought him international fame and numerous awards. This portrayal was the one used to define Peter the Great for American audiences in Frank Capra's 1943 propaganda film The Battle of Russia, which used brief clips from the Soviet films.
Simonov was considered to be a patriarch of the St. Petersburg school of acting. Simonov's stage performances were legendary; several of his stage works were filmed for a historic record. His leading role in The Living Corpse, an adaptation of the book by Leo Tolstoy, is remembered as one of the highest achievements in stage acting in Russian theatre. Simonov's portrayal of Antonio Salieri in Mozart and Salieri from The Little Tragedies by Alexander Pushkin won him a Stanislavski State Prize award in 1962. Simonov regarded acting on stage as superior to acting in film; he supported the similar position of Constantin Stanislavski and Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko.
Marriage and children
Simonov was also the father of a remarkable family, his wife was an actress, and his son, Nikolay Nikolaevich Simonov, was a famous surgeon in Russia.
Death and afterward
Nikolay Simonov died on April 20, 1973, in St. Petersburg and was laid to rest in the Necropolis of Masters of Arts at Alexander Nevsky Lavra.
- Krasnye partizany / Red Partisans (1924)
- Vzduvayte gorny (1925)
- Devyatoe yanvarya / Ninth of January (1925)
- Katerina Izmailova (1927)
- Khabu (1928) - Yegor
- Rodnoy brat / Brother (1929) - Fyodor Gorbachyov
- Kain i Artem / Cain and Artem (1929) - Artem
- Paren s beregov Misuri / A Lad from the Banks of the Missouri (1932) - Iogann Timan
- Chapaev (1934) - Zhikharev
- Chudo / Miracles (1934) - Fyodor, his son
- Goryachie denyochki / Hectic Days (1935) - Tank Commander Mikhail Trofimovich Belokon
- Pyotr pervyy I / The Conquests of Peter the Great, Part One (1937) - Peter the Great
- Pyotr pervyy II / The Conquests of Peter the Great, Part Two (1938) - Peter the Great
- Ostrov Bezymyannyj (1946)
- Stalingradskaya bitva I / The Battle of Stalingrad, Part I (1949) - Lt. Gen. Churkov
- Stalingradskaya bitva II / The Battle of Stalingrad, Part II (1949) - Lt. Gen. Churkov
- Zhivoy trup (1952) - Fyodor Protasov
- Ovod / The Gadfly (1955) - Cardinal Montanelli
- Geroite na Shipka / Heroes of Shipka (1955)
- Gde-to est syn (1962)
- Chelovek-Amfibiya / Amphibian Man (1962) - Prof. Salvator
- Rabochiy posyolok / Workers' Quarters (1965) - Sotnikov
- Na odnoy planete (1965)
- Posledneye delo komissara Berlakha / Suspicion (1972) - Berlach
Awards and honors
- 1938: Order of Lenin
- 1941: Stalin Prize, 1st class - for the main role in the film "Peter I"
- 1947: USSR State Prize, 2nd class - for his role of General Victor Stepanovich Muravyev in the play "Winners", by B F Chirskova
- 1950: USSR State Prize
- 1950: People's Artist of the USSR - for his role of General Chuikov in the film "The Battle of Stalingrad"
- 1966: Stanislavsky State Prize of the RSFSR - for the performance of roles Matthias Clausen and Salieri in productions of "Before Sunset" by G. Hauptmann, and "Little Tragedies" by A. Pushkin
- 1967: Order of Lenin
- 1971: Hero of Socialist Labour
- 1971: Order of Lenin
- Театральная энциклопедия. Гл. ред. С. С. Мокульский. Т. 1 — М.: Советская энциклопедия, А — «Глобус», 1961, 1214 стб. с илл., 12 л. илл. (стб. 707)
- Театральная Энциклопедия. драма опера балет оперетта цирк эстрада драматург режиссер