22 March 2012

Nathalie Kovanko

Nathalie Kovanko (1899 - 1967) was a Russian-Ukrainian actress who played in Russian and French silent cinema.

Nathalie Kovanko
French postcard by Editions Filma, no. 143. Photo: Ermolieff.

Nathalie Kovanko
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 27. Photo: Studio Pathé Consortium Cinéma.

Nathalie Kovanko
French postcard by Cinémagazine-Edition, Paris, no. 299.

Escape From Crimea
Natalia Ivanovna Kovanko (Наталья Ивановна Кованько) was born in Yalta, Russian Empire (now Crimea, Ukraine) in 1899. She was the sister of author/scriptwriter Boris de Fast, né Boris Fastovich. She debuted in the Russian cinema in 1917 in Kozy…kozochki…kozly/The Goats (1917, Ivan Perestani) with Viatcheslav (Victor) Tourjansky and Nikolai Orlov. In 1917 - 1919 she played in many Russian films shot in Yalta at the Ermolieff studio, of which most were directed by actor-turned-director Victor Tourjansky: Zakoldovanny ykrug/The Vicious Circle (1917), Bolotnye mirazhi/Storm in March (1918), Bal gospoden/The Eternal Ball (1918), Irene Negludov (1919), and Grekh i iskuplenie/Sin and Redemption (1919). She also played in a film by animation master Ladislas Starevitch, Sorotchinskai a yarmaka/The Sorotochinsk Fair (1918). Kovanko and Tourjansky had married in the meanwhile. When the Red Army reached Yalta, Tourjansky and Kovanko, together with the other Ermolieff actors (Ivan Mozzhukhin, Nicolas Koline, Nicolas Rimsky and Nathalie Lissenko) fled the Crimea and emigrated to France. There Tourjansky managed to build up a career through the help of the Russian producers Alexander Kamenka and Joseph Ermolieff.

Nathalie Kovanko
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1511/1, 1927-1928. Photo: Deulig.

Jaque Catelain, Nathalie Kovanko
French postcard. With Jaque Catelain.

Jaque Catelain and Nathalie Kovanko
French postcard. Catelain and Kovanko played together in Le prince charmant (1925, Viktor Tourjansky).

A French Film Star
For a decade Nathalie Kovanko was a French film star in films that were almost all directed by her husband. One exception was Jean d’Algreve (1922) by René Leprince, with Léon Mathot. Among the films directed by her husband were L’ordonnance/The order (1921) with Alexandre Colas, Les contes de mille et une nuits/Tales from Arabian Nights (1921), Nuit de carnaval/Carnival Night(1922) with Rimsky and Koline, Le quinzième prélude de Chopin/The fifteenth Chopin prelude (1922) with André Nox, Le chant de l’amour triomphant/The song of triumphant love (1923) with Jean Angelo and Rolla Norman, Calvaire d’amour/Calvary Love (1923) with Charles Vanel, La dame masquée/The masked lady (1924) with René Maupré, Le prince charmant/Prince Charming (1925) with Jaque Catelain, and Michel Strogoff/Michael Strogoff (1926) in which she played Nadia Fedor and Ivan Mozzhukhin Strogoff. It was her last silent film. She did not collaborate on Abel Gance’s Napoléon for which Tourjansky assisted Gance, neither was she involved in the film projects of her husband in Hollywood in 1928, or in his German films from the late 1920's. Kovanko’s last film was the sound film Volga en flammes (1934, Viktor Tourjansky) starring Albert Préjean. In 1931 Tourjansky had discovered Simone Simon and directed her in Le Chanteur inconnu/The Unknown Singer (1931). The two became a pair and Tourjansky directed her again in Les yeux noirs/The Black Eyes (1935). Nathalie Kovanko divorced from Tourjansky and returned to Ukraine, where she died in Kiev in 1967.

Nathalie Kovanko and Ivan Mozzhukin
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1512/1. Photo: Deulig. Publicity still for Michel Strogoff (1926, Viktor Tourjansky). Nadia Fedor consoles Michael Strogoff (Ivan Mozzhukhin) after he is blinded.

Nathalie Kovanko
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 1067/2, 1927-1928. Photo: Dewesti Film GmbH.

Nathalie Kovanko
German postcard by Ross Verlag, no. 3570/1, 1928-1929. Photo: Ama-Film.

Sources: Ciné-Artistes (French), Wikipedia (French) and IMDb.

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