Russian Actress Tatiana Samoilova Dead at 80

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Praised at Cannes in 1958 for being "modest and charming," Samoilova was best known for her award-winning role in "The Cranes Are Flying."

Russian actress Tatiana Samoilova, best known for her role as Vera in Mikhail Kolotozov's Cannes Palme d'Or-winning Soviet war film The Cranes Are Flying has died at the age of 80.

Samoilova, who won acclaim at Cannes in 1958 for being the "most modest and charming actress," died in Moscow early Monday of heart failure just hours after her 80th birthday

The delicate beauty born in Leningrad May 4, 1934, took up ballet as a child before later studying acting at top theater schools in Moscow, including the famous Stanislavsky academy.

In 1957, after three years at the Boris Shchutkin Theater Academy in Moscow, she was asked to play the lead female role in The Cranes Are Flying.

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A poignant and painful portrayal of the psychological cost of war, the film became the only Soviet movie to win a Palme d'Or at Cannes.

Samoilova, who went on to star in the sequel, The Unsent Letters, played the title role in Alexanders Zarkhi's 1967 movie version of Anna Karenina.

A "national artist of Russia"-- one of the top state cultural honors -- Samoilova was rarely seen in public in recent years, although in 2004, to the surprise of the audience, she attended an emotional screening of The Cranes Are Flying at Siberian film festival, Spirit of Fire.

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In 2007 at the 29th edition of the Moscow Film Festival, she was honored with a lifetime achievement award.

Her last film role was in Igor Voloshin's 2008 movie, Nirvana.

Samoilova, who was married four times, leaves behind a son from her third marriage.