The Tragic Accident on the Set of ‘Mama’: Lyudmila Gurchenko’s Fracture and Oleg Popov’s Role

Natalia Romanova

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Oleg Popov and Lyudmila Gurchenko The musical film “Mama,” released in the 1970s, was a kind of Soviet response to Hollywood. Bright costumes, famous Russian artists, songs and dances, even pirouettes on ice. Both children and adults liked the picture. But the famous Lyudmila Gurchenko, who played one of the main roles, did not like to remember the film.

They said that in order to participate in a musical film based on the plot of the famous fairy tale “The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats,” Gurchenko was forced to abandon filming in Nikita Mikhalkov’s film “An Unfinished Piece for a Mechanical Piano.”

“Mama” was a joint project of the USSR, Romania and France. Initially it was intended to be shown in different countries, which was very attractive for artists.

Lyudmila Gurchenko in the film “Mama”

Lyudmila Markovna played the role of Goat in “Mama”. As always, she approached the matter with full dedication. She courageously took to the ice in a scene filmed at the skating rink. Although the actress was weak on skates. Gurchenko very much asked her colleagues not to approach her – she was terribly afraid of falling.

“Sunny Clown” – this nickname was assigned to Oleg Popov in the Soviet Union. “The Sun in a String Bag” was the name of a very famous pop-circus program with his participation. Alas, it was Popov who played an extremely unpleasant role in Gurchenko’s fate.

Oleg Popov in the film “The Sun in a String Bag”

In the musical, Popov played the role of the Bear and demonstrated “dexterity” worthy of Toptygin. He ran into the actress and knocked her onto the ice. “I heard a crunch and realized that something terrible had happened. Gurchenko had a fracture above his ankle. She raised her leg, and the skate hung on it. It was a terrible picture,” recalled Mikhail Boyarsky, who played the role of the Wolf.

“The doctors then assembled my limb from 19 fragments,” Gurchenko herself stated. She had to undergo more than one operation. The actress was in severe pain. But she returned to the set in a cast – the film had to be finished. In a number of scenes, the actress was assisted by a stunt double with a similar figure.

Such a serious injury could have put an end to Gurchenko’s career. Fortunately, this did not happen. But she avoided talking about the “sunny clown”: “Oleg Popov? Don’t ask me about him.”

Photo source: still from the film, Photoagency Interpress and Igor Gnevashev/Global Look Press

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