dancer, choreographer, teacher, dancer
January 22, 1882 - November 22, 1956
Theodore Kosloff (Born Fyodor Kozlov) was a Russian-born American ballet dancer, choreographer, teacher and a popular film actor, whose Hollywood career fell a victim to sound in movies.
Theodore Kosloff - The Eastern Star
Fyodor Kozlov, more known as Theodore Kosloff, was born in Moscow. Kosloff began his professional ballet career after training at Moscow's Imperial Theater. After graduating in 1901, the young but striking dancer began touring internationally with the famous Diaghilev Ballet Company.
His unusual appearance and enviable stature always were both a blessing and a curse for the dancer. It was rumored that, while on a tour, Kosloff began a romantic relationship with future Mrs. Rudolph Valentino, Natasha Rambova. Their affair, however, was not meant to become something serious or enduring...
In 1909, while on a tour in the United States, Kosloff was introduced to the influential film director Cecil B. De Mille. As luck would have it, the director's young niece was an ardent fan of the dancer - DeMille, already impressed by the young man's dark and enigmatic appearance, was even more inclined to offer Kosloff to explore another career avenue - become an actor! The very first movie Kosloff worked in happened to be Woman God Forgot, with the extremely popular American singer and actress, Geraldine Farrar.
Despite a new career in Hollywood, Kosloff never forgot about his true calling. In 1912 he became the choreographic director of La Saison Russe, working on a series of performances by established Russian ballet and opera companies in New York, including Mussorgsky's Khovanshchina and Boris Godunov, Rimsky-Korsakov's Sadko and The Tsar's Bride, Anton Rubinstein's Demon, Alexander Borodin's Prince Igor and Mikhail Glinka's Ruslan and Lyudmila.
He also tested - quite successfully - his abilities as a choreographer in a genre that was completely new for him: the Broadway musical! Between 1912 and 1916 he choreographed The Passing Show, A World of Pleasure and See America First.
In 1923 Kosloff gained nation-wide fame after an incident in which he declined the throne of Tatars, offered to him by the exiled Liberal party of Kazan, with the word: "I could be Khan, but it is doubtful for how long. And I decided I would rather be a live motion-picture actor than a dead king!"
Kosloff depended heavily on De Mille's protection; most of his roles were in De Mille's movies and were quite limited in scope because of his appearance - he invariably was cast as an Eastern noble, an Arab sheik or a Latin lover. And that, in the end, was what cut his acting career short... With the advent of sound film, studio executives were reluctant to cast him in roles because of his strong Russian accent, and he had no other employers to turn to...
His last substantial on-screen role was in musical flop Madam Satan, and in 1937 he appeared on the silver screen for the last time. After that, he would only consult movie producers on choreography, and turn back to ballet, opening a successful dancing school in Los Angeles.
On the Thanksgiving morning of 1956, Theodore Kosloff suddenly felt ill and was taken to Hollywood Hospital where he died at the age of 74. For his contribution to the motion picture industry, Kosloff was given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Willis, H.B.K. (1923-01-21). "Los Angeles dancer king of wild Russian Tatar tribes". The Los Angeles Times
Lowrey, Carolyn (1920). The First 1000 Noted Men and Women of the Screen. Moffat, Yard and company