Boris Khimichev: a man with a halberd, biceps and love for Tatyana Doronina

Actor Boris Khimichev in Altai, 2008

Actor Boris Khimichev in Altai, 2008

A photo: Oleg UKLADOV

Boris Khimichev I remember from Soviet films. Since childhood. Handsome, tall. Enemy of Robin Hood in the movie about Ivanhoe. Self-confident Mizgir in “The Snow Maiden”. Then – an American spy. He was not in many films, although he had many films. Sometimes three a year, but here he always talked about quality. Doronina has a dozen, but almost all are masterpieces. And Khimichev has men in chain mail or tailcoats, and they are all completely scoundrels.

He had a collective farm childhood. The mother died after an unsuccessful abortion, the boy Borya was then 12 years old. He said to himself that until the age of 15 he twisted the tails of cows, although his father was the chairman of the collective farm. He grew up in the Ukrainian village of Balamutovka, and then went to Kyiv to enter somewhere. He spent three courses at the Faculty of Radiophysics, and then felt the desire to become an actor.

When he was little, he was teased by all his peers: post-war health and poor, frequent illnesses. And Khimichev took up himself no longer in the village. And he came to Moscow as a guy who was very good looking. Producer Andrey Zhitinkin he served with Boris Khimichev in the Mossovet Theater, which he recalls especially for KP.RU.


– Andrei, Boris Khimichev was not from a creative family, but he was always used in the cinema as a noble and thoroughbred villain. How do you explain that a person who is so spectacular was almost always on the sidelines, and negative ones at that?

He always thought he was very handsome…

But he was very handsome!

– Yes, but Khimichev was even a little narcissistic. He liked to dress very beautifully, did not spare money for clothes. As a director, I looked at him from the outside and understood: he also has a negative charm. After all, there are heroes with positive charm that attract both men and women – it doesn’t matter, because they are charismatic, but there is another charismatic. And Khimichev wanted to go to that “good” half, but was all the time in this, negative. I was never surprised that he constantly played villains, scoundrels, enemies … This is a normal role. And in the theater, he always played the second hero, who plots. This was the fate of Khimichev. He also had machismo, as I call it. He was very fond of sports, went to the rocking chair …

– In a rocking chair? In those years?

– Yes, he walked, he really liked that he had biceps. He was a man who needed to be noticed by women. I think that Doronina also drew attention to him, because he really wanted to catch her eye. They were at the Mayakovsky Theater, but Doronina had completely different stories: she was fond of Radzinsky, and Khimichev was there, excuse me, almost an extra.

Boris Khimichev in movie "Snow Maiden"

Boris Khimichev in the film “The Snow Maiden”

A photo: film frame


– Still, there was not just a walk-on extra. He played the queen’s lover.

– If she played queens, then he went out with a halberd. But he hung around all the time. He once admitted to me that he deliberately asked to be in the cast in order to be next to her in the play “Vivat, Queen, Vivat!”. Step by step, he quietly showed her signs of attention, helping her to descend, say, from the throne, giving her his hand in time. Helping to overcome the steps – there are always many steps in the theater. I think the first spark was when she felt this masculine power, this hand that you can lean on. She has always had intellectual admirers, Radzinsky alone is worth something! But these are intellectual games, she was always drawn to some such high-browed ones, she loved sophistication and charm. Khimichev did not fit into this paradigm, but this is what he fascinated her with. And when such a romance began, I think that such a temperament was new to her.

– But one thing – a brief romance and temperament, but they lived for 9 years!

– Yes, and that’s why he took such good care of himself, his body and clothes. He understood: next to him she should be, as if behind a stone wall. She loved to go out with him: tall, broad-shouldered, she liked it. Another thing is that she did not help him at all in his career. In the theater, she did not ask for a single role for him. She was treated like a page who helps to temporarily descend from the throne. She was very comfortable with him: he took over everything around the house. I constantly wanted to take her out into nature, to equip the dacha. I caught him when they were already divorced, but by that time he was one of the most important people in the Mossovet Theater, because he was engaged in a dacha cooperative. Went with a briefcase. He collected contributions, people’s artists depended on him. What site, to whom will he give building material, to whom he will not. It was a problem – even to buy a brick. And I was a young director then and chuckled when in the smoking room before the rehearsal everyone discussed the dacha issue. And Khimichev was in the center of the “dacha team”. Instead of learning the text, they held meetings, came out red and excited. Soviet time, as in Ryazanov’s film “Garage”.


– This is a rather difficult and quarrelsome position!

– Precisely sloppy. Then they accused Khimichev of stealing in the cooperative. He justified himself and proved that he was not. Then this cooperative had to be enclosed with a fence, guarded, and all this was on it. I looked at him and thought: “My God! He, of course, is a godsend for the theater, but how many roles did he not play because of this ?! On the other hand, time has passed, he died, but this cooperative is standing, and this powerful fence is also standing. And many people, especially the children of actors, are grateful to him. He had such a penetrating power, and even the fact that he was Doronina’s ex-husband … He trumped it in the highest instances. And often mentioned. He came and said: “Oh, as Tatiana told me …” He answered: “What Tatiana?”. – “Yes, my ex-wife, Doronina.” The officials melted away. She also had a fantastic magnetism.

Boris Khimichev in movie "Ballad of the valiant knight Ivanhoe"

Boris Khimichev in the film “The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe”

A photo: film frame


– As for me, Boris Khimichev also had magnetism. As a child, I saw him in the role of a bad lord, and almost fell in love.

– In “Ivanhoe” he is very well filmed. He had small roles, but they were memorable. He didn’t like to put on makeup. Real beard, muscle. His historical costumes were very suitable for him. He rode wonderfully, shot from a bow – whatever you want. Maybe Doronina first fell in love with him for these qualities, and then realized that he was also “handy” in the house, as they say.

– After his death, there were very tough trials for the inheritance, what were they talking about in the theatrical environment then?

“I guess a lot of this is due to superstition. Even when Khimichev was very seriously ill, potential heirs were already pestering him. There was a story with a company of exclusively folk artists – from Klyuev and Pashutin to Aristarkh Livanov. Their group was called “The Gene Pool”. In principle, they created skits. They traveled around the country, somehow even brought them to London, where for some reason Luzhkov celebrated his anniversary. They received fees, and Khimichev flew with them to all points, even if it was hard for him. I once asked him: “Well, have you done your business?” And he replied that he did not want to think about a bad end. He pushed away the thought of death.


“Snow Maiden”

“The Ballad of the Valiant Knight Ivanhoe”

“Return of the Resident”, “End of Operation Resident”

“Fathers and Sons”

“TASS is authorized to announce”

“Black arrow”

“Boris Godunov”

“Gold chain”

“Midshipmen, forward!”

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