Oleg Vidov, a prolific Russian actor who lived and worked in the U.S. for more than 30 years, has died at the the age of 73 after a long battle with cancer.
Vidov, who acted in more than 50 movies, including “Red Heat” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and “Wild Orchid” with Mickey Rourke, died on May 15 from cancer-related complications in Westlake Village, California, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“My wonderful husband and soulmate … passed last night peacefully and with dignity,” wife Joan Borsten wrote in a Facebook announcement. “Oleg waged a long and very quiet war against multiple myeloma, a terrible disease for which there is no cure. My heart is broken.”
Borsten said Vidov had been in the hospital for more than a week, and that he was surrounded by his family, who had been watching his movies with him.
The actor was born in Filimoni, on the outskirts of Moscow, and quickly rose to fame starring in films produced in what was then the U.S.S.R., although he defected in 1985.
The hugely popular Russian then moved to Los Angeles, where he appeared in a number of films and TV shows, including “Love Affair,” “The Immortals,” “The West Wing” and “Alias.”
When he defected from his home country, state-owned Soviet TV stations stopped playing his movies. But so many people wanted to see the star’s films that TV channels soon began broadcasting them again, although they removed his name from the credits.
Vidov, who worked in a hospital for a short time when he was younger, went on to found Malibu Beach Recovery Centers, an addiction rehabilitation program, with Borsten. He said in an interview with the center’s website he was inspired to start the centers in part from his innate desire to encourage people to better their lives.
“My parents were also helping people their whole lives, and my aunt in Kazakhstan helped refugees that were running from the Nazis,” he told the site in 2013. “Times were difficult, and she taught them how to survive. … So when I came to the U.S., it was natural for me to try and help people. When Joan first talked about opening the clinic, I knew that we should do it.”
He said at the time that he always worked hard to help recovery patients realize their dreams, because many of those who entered the program “lost their drive to be somebody, or do something.”
“When I chat with them and they talk about their past, one person might have wanted to become an engineer, for example. But his parents may have said, ‘Why do you want to be an engineer?’ … So that person never got a chance to achieve his dream. If the parent had let him try, he may have changed his mind in two days. Young people need the chance to try what they think they would like to do.”
Sources: The Hollywood Reporter, Joan Borsten/Facebook, Malibu Beach Recovery Centers / Photo credit: tanjila ahmed/Flickr, Joan Borsten/Facebook