Vera Karalli Haiku

Like perv Rasputin

Is going to stay to get shanked

If there’s no hot dames.

Vera Karalli, Russian ballerina, silent film actress, dance instructor, and probable co-conspirator in Rasputin’s assassination, was born 129 years ago today.

In those dramatic years before the Russian Revolution, she starred in a whopping sixteen silent films, including the very first film adaptation of War and Peace. It was probably a little shorter than the book.) She also performed in the traveling Ballets Russes and as a soloist in the Bolshoi Theatre.

So how did she get involved with killing Rasputin? At some point, she became the mistress of Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich, first cousin once removed of Tsar Nicholas II. (Nicky himself had an affair with a ballerina, which he broke off when he got engaged to Alexandra.) Like everyone else, Dmitri thought the weird dirty mystic was terrible for the Tsar and Russia and plotted with Prince Felix Yusupov to do away with him.

It is a well-known fact that Rasputin was an enormous lech, so Felix lured him over to his place with the promise of introducing him to his hot wife, Princess Irina. (She was actually in Crimea, but Felix kept saying she was just upstairs, she’ll be down in a moment.) Then proceeded the exceedingly dramatic and ridiculous death of Rasputin.

Vera is thought to have been there when it happened, along with Marianne Pistohlkors, former mistress of Dmitri’s dad. Their names were left out of subsequent legal proceedings and the men wouldn’t bring them into them. Just because they were murderers didn’t mean they couldn’t be gentlemen, damnit.

Then the October Revolution happened, the Bolsheviks took power, and former mistresses of Russian Grand Dukes thought it wise to get out of Dodge. She acted in two more films, and after using her ballet skills to raise money for fellow exiles, she moved into ballet instruction in Lithuania, Romania, and finally, Austria.

She died there at the ripe old age of 83.

Some of her films do survive – which, considering the vast number of silent films that have been wiped out because no one thought to conserve them, is quite a happy happenstance. You can watch The Dying Swan here.
You can find more of her work there too.

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