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December 19, 1986 - Image 69

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-12-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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a supreme example of how
the generations had changed
in the Soviet Union.
Massalsky was furious at
the anti-Semitism that he felt
was responsible for the fact
that the authorities were re-
sisting Larisa's admission to
the Institute (only 35 of 3,000
applicants were accepted).
Massalsky, Larisa says, was
angered that in the Soviet
Union, there would be those
who wanted to pit one group
of people against another. He
used to say that this was
especially bad in a country
made up of so many different
kinds of nationalities That's
why he insisted on Larisa
entering the institute or he
wouldn't teach, she says.
She became the only
Jewish student in the class at
the institute. They kicked out
the only other Jew who had
already been accepted, a
man. The authorities felt
there couldn't be two Jews in
the same school.
Massalsky, she points out,
was 75 — certainly one of the
older generation. He is now
dead.
"I had to get a Russian
stage name, but I always felt
compelled to protest, to be
proud of being a Jews. Being
a Jew in the Soviet Union is
worse than being black here,"
she says.
Her friends all told her not
to emigrate, she says sighing,
and had she known then
what she knows now about
Hollywood, she concedes that
she might not have come.
Her friends knew something,
for they all warned her she
wouldn't do as well in Hol-
lywood as she had in the
Soviet Union. She was not
aware of a severe mechanical
impediment to her career
when she first arrived, that
her English was rusty. That
severe impediment was the
fact that in Hollywood, parts
are rarely dubbed.
Now her life in the Soviet
Union is like a dream, like
something that happened to
her in a former life.
Larisa has recently started
her own school, the Original
Stanislaysky Academy of
Dramatic Arts in Los
Angeles, so named because
her teacher, Massalsky, at
the University of Moscow Art
Theatre Institute was one of
Stanislaysky's most famed
actors and exponents.
Larisa has thrown herself
into teaching (she taught at
UCLA extension for a while),
and says she loves it. Still,
her life is not on the same
level professionally as it was
in the Soviet Union.
On the other hand, she had
found it impossible to live
with the constant denigration
of her nationality, her iden-
tity, with all the anti-
Semitism which she
encountered and believes is
endemic in the Soviet Union.
It demoralized and angered
her, and that is the other side
of her regrets.

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69

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