Rachel Messerer

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Rachel Messerer
Ra Messerer, 1924
Born (1902-03-04)March 4, 1902
Vilnius, Lithuania
Died March 20, 1993(1993-03-20) (aged 91)
Moscow, Russia
Other names Ra Messerer
Occupation silent film actress
Years active 1925-1930
Spouse(s) Michael Plisetski

Rachel Messerer-Plisetskaya (Russian: Рахиль Михайловна Мессерер-Плисецкая; stage-name — Ra Messerer); born 4 March 1902, — 20 March 1993) — was a Russian silent film and theatre actress.


Rachel Messerer was born in Vilnius into the Lithuanian Jewish family of dentist Mikhail Messerer and his wife Sima Shabad,[1][2] and was one of nine children. Every child got a biblical name: Pnina, Azariah, Mattany, Rachel, Assaf, Elisheva, Shulamith, Emanuel, Abinadab and Erella.[1]

Rachel, her brother Azari Azarin (an actor), sister Sulamith Messerer (ballerina) and brother Asaf Messerer (ballet dancer, choreographer) became famous and started a dynasty of outstanding ballet dancers and ballet masters.

She married well-known Russian diplomat Mikhail Plisetski (1899–1938) and they had three children: famous ballerina Maya Plisetskaya (1925-2015), talented balletmaster Alexander Plisetski (1931–1985) and Azari Plisetski (1937). And grand-daughter (1971-) Anna Plisetskaya, another ballerina.

Career and Destiny

Rachel Messerer graduated from Institute of Cinematography in 1925 (class of Lev Kuleshov).

During the early years of Soviet system, Rachel starred at the “Bukhkino” and “The Star of the East” studios. Ra Messerer’s film career was rather short, because soon after the wedding she devoted herself to the family and her husband, who represented the Soviet Government in Spitsbergen, being the Consul General in Barentsburg and chief of coal mines.

On 30 April 1937 Michael Plisetski was purged, charged with espionage and executed on 8 January 1938.[3]

In early March 1938 Rachel was arrested. The secret police agents demanded of Rachel to confirm that her husband was “a spy, a traitor, a saboteur, a criminal, and a participant of the conspiracy against Stalin.” Rather bravely for those years, she refused and was sentenced to 8 years in prison.

Rachel's daughter Maya faced the threat of an orphanage, she was adopted by her aunt Sulamith, and her son Alexander was taken by the family of Rachel's brother Asaf Messerer. These events caused many troubles to Asaf and Sulamith. In summer 1939, Rachel was transferred to the “ru” (in Kazakhstan).

Rachel Messerer-Plisetskaya was released in 1941, only two months before the start of the Great Patriotic War. After her release, Rachel never restarted the acting career. In those days, no director would have risked his career by inviting her..

Nevertheless, Rachel believed that her beloved husband was alive and would come back someday. On March 3, 1956 she learned the truth: in the papers on rehabilitation of Michael Plisetski, the execution date of his execution was disclosed: 8 January 1938.


  • 1927 — "The second wife" (Russian: "Вторая жена", "Uzbekgoskino", director - M.I. Doronin)[4]
  • 1928 — "Leper" ( "Uzbekgoskino") [5]
  • 1928 — "Valley of Tears" (Russian: "Долина слёз" ("Dolina slyoz") 1-st factory Goskino, director - Alexander Razumny).[6]
  • 1929 — "One hundred and twenty thousand a year" ("Mezhrabpomfilm")[7]


  • In 2007 of a documentary film The Star from outside[8] was made about Ra Messerer.[9] For the production the tapes of the Russian movie-archive "Gosfilmofond RF" were used. Produced by TC "Gamajun" - Director and screenwriter Firdavs Zaynutdinov. Cinematography by Eugene Kutuzkin. Narrator — Irina Apeksimova. Produced for REN TV. Broadcaster - the Russian TV channel "Culture".

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 I'm Maya Plisetskaya. 490 p. Мoscow: AST Moscow, 2008.
  2. Sulamif Messerer: "I want to live!"
  3. stalin.memo.ru
  4. Film in 7 parts. Cinematography by V.P. Dobrzhanskii, starring: M.I. Grinyova, Ra Messerer, G.G. Chechelashvili, M.I. Doronin.
  5. Film adaptation of the novel "New moon" by F. Duchenne.
  6. Documentary films on history of Altai
  7. Gosfilmofond RF
  8. "Culture", "The Star from outside" Documentary
  9. Documentary film The Star from outside 2007