Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Oleg Vidov, Soviet actor who defected to US, dies at 73

Oleg Vidov, Soviet actor who defected to US, dies at 73

The son of a schoolteacher and a finance ministry deputy fell in love with films as a boy living with an aunt on the Chinese border and was always drawn to American films, which he told The Times in 1985 "always transported me to a world that was nice and handsome".

The actor's blond hair, blue eyes and striking good looks earned him the moniker "the Robert Redford of Soviet cinema" and made him a top box-office draw back home in the 1970s.

He shot the 1967 Gabriel Axel-directed film The Red Mantle in Denmark. Dino De Laurentis hired Oleg to work in "Waterloo" (1970), a Soviet-Italian co-production that starred Rod Steiger, Christopher Plummer and Orson Welles.

Vidov left Russian Federation in 1985, settling down in Los Angeles. Two of Vidov's standout roles were in 1988's Red Heat, in which he played Yuri Ogarkov alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger's Captain Ivan Danko, and in 1990's Wild Orchid as Otto Munch opposite Mickey Rourke's James Wheeler.

The state-owned Soviet TV channels stopped playing his movies after his defection but eventually bowed to popular demand and broadcast them without using his name.

He returned to the USSR to study directing but fell out of favor with the government soon after that. Only after perestroika were his credits restored in 1987. "Times were hard, and she taught them how to survive".

Beyond the silver screen, Vidov also appeared in television series such as The West Wing, Alias, and Criminal Minds. At age 70, he was the voice of Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in the documentary "Time Within Time".

In 1988, Oleg and his wife, Joan Borsten Vidov, formed Films by Jove, Inc., a film production and distribution company, and in 1992 obtained global distribution rights to the Soyuzmultfilm Studio animation library (approximately 1,200 films produced from 1936-1991).

In 1988, he and his wife, Joan, formed a production company called Films by Jove Inc., which later acquired worldwide distribution rights to the Soyuzmultfilm Studio animation library and financed the digital restoration of the collection's roughly 1,200 films. Oleg and Joan served as co-authors with Mikhail Baryshnikov of "Mikhail Baryshnikov's Stories from My Childhood" (published in 2002 by Harry N. Abrams, New York).

The Vidovs sold rights to the library to Russian businessman Alisher Usmanov in 2007. The Malibu Beach Recovery Center was featured on television shows such as A&E's "Intervention".

Vidov and his wife, Joan Borsten Vidov, formed Films by Jove, a production and distribution company, in 1988.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Hollywood Forever cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd.

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