By: Erik Khzmalyan
On July 4th people all over the world celebrated the anniversary of one the most talented Armenian actors, Mher “Frunzik” Mkrtchyan. Most of us grew up watching the immortal films starring Frunzik. His unique characters, sharp humor, and exceptional talent entertained audiences all around the world. His kind smile and innocent facial expression caused the viewers of his films to be sympathetic to the characters he portrayed. Frunzik knew how to make people laugh and his fascinating phrases became incorporated into Armenian vernacular.
Yet, there is this sorrow and untold sadness in his eyes. Few people know about the challenges Frunzik faced in his life. In reality Mher Mkrtchyan had a complex and difficult life. By watching masterpieces like, “Kidnapping, Caucasian Style,” and “Mimino,” no one would assume that Mkrtchyan had such a hard fate. Indeed, he had a tragic personal life. A man, who gave joy to thousands of people, had his own story deep in his soul.
His wife Damir, with who he lived for several years, was diagnosed with schizophrenia. The local Armenian doctors were not able to treat her and she was sent to France. Frunz, left with his 2 children and had to take care of them, in the meantime staying active in theater and cinematography. Yet, Frunze had to face one of the worst experiences in his life. After getting married, his daughter moved to Argentina, where she lived with her husband. Unfortunately, she became a victim of a car accident and passed away at a very young age. It was a major traumatic event for the great actor. Having lost his lovely daughter, Frunze was devastated, but continued his sacred job of bringing joy to people. He kept getting invitations from many countries for new films. While he was in Moscow shooting one of the best films in Soviet cinematography, “Mimino,” Frunzik was told that his son inherited his mother’s mental illness and needed a treatment. This was another downfall for Frunzik. The actor, who seemed so happy and joyful on the screen, was miserable.
Frunzik spent the last years of his life organizing his own theater. Many of his friends observed that he wanted to hide his dejection through the theater. Mher Mkrtchyan died on December 29, 1993 in Yerevan. Thousands of people took to the streets of Yerevan to mourn his passing by walking through the streets that had been frequented by the national icon.
Even today, his films entertain thousands. Generations are raised by watching his movies such as, Մենք ենք, Մեր Սարերը, (“We, Our Mountains”) Հին Օրերի Երգը, (“Old Days’ Song”) Մեր Մանկության Տանգոն, (“Tango of Our Childhood”) and Կովկասի Գերուհին (“Kidnapping, Caucasian Style.”)
The generations won’t forget YOUR name. Սերունդները կհիշեն քո անունը, վարպետ…