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    Tatiana Samoilova, 80; Soviet movie star

    Ms. Samoilova played Anna Karenina in a 1967 Soviet adaptation of the novel.
    AFP/Getty Images/File 1961
    Ms. Samoilova played Anna Karenina in a 1967 Soviet adaptation of the novel.

    MOSCOW — Tatiana Samoilova — a Soviet movie star whose doe-eyed, dark-haired beauty and strong-willed performances drew comparisons to Audrey Hepburn — died Monday. She had turned 80 the day before.

    Her brother, Alexei Samoilov, said the cause was from heart and lung ailments.

    Ms. Samoilova’s best-known role was as a young woman who loses her fiancé in World War II in Mikhail Kalatozov’s film “The Cranes Are Flying.”


    In 1958, it won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, and it remains the only Soviet or Russian film to have done so. Soviet officials allowed Ms. Samoilova to attend the festival, where she received a special prize, but they did not allow her to work in the West.

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    In later years, Ms. Samoilova spoke of how bureaucrats had determined her fate. In a recent interview, published posthumously in 7 Days, a popular Russian television guide, she recalled the grand future envisioned for her by Pablo Picasso, whom she met during the Parisian leg of her Cannes trip.

    “I remember,” she said, “this amazing person said to me: ‘Today you walk along the boulevard and no one knows you. But tomorrow you will be driving in a car through Hollywood.’ And his prediction almost came true! Already at the festival, Gérard Philipe gave me a watch as a gift and invited me to star in ‘Anna Karenina’ with him. Can you imagine how dazzled I was by the prospect? I thought: ‘Well, it’s begun!’ But my return to the USSR brought me back down to earth.”

    Studio officials said she could not appear in the film because she was still a student, and they warned her of Hollywood’s loose morals.

    Ms. Samoilova went on to play Anna Karenina, but first, instead of going to Hollywood, she was ordered to star in “Letter Never Sent,” also directed by Kalatozov, about four geologists whose search for diamonds in Siberia takes a tragic turn after they are caught in a forest fire.


    Tatiana Yevgenyevna Samoilova was born in Leningrad.