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Actress. Russian-born motion picture actress, producer, and writer of the 1910s through the 1940s. Her large home along Sunset Boulevard. was dubbed 'The Garden of Alla,' a popular spot for the Hollywood elite. She was the Godmother of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Born Mariam Edez Adelaida Leventon in Yalta Russia, her early life was one of instability and abuse as the family moved from Russia to Switzerland where her parents finally divorced. The young Alla showed a tremendous talent for music at the age of seven, and began violin lessons. Her father remarried and brought her back to Russia. She continued to study the violin and in 1889 was selected to perform in a Christmas concert by her private tutor. Her father demanded that she use a different name for her performance. She took the last name of her heroine Nadezhda Nazimova combining it with her given name to perform as Adelaida Nazimova. At age 15, she was sent to boarding school in Odessa for a more formal education. She began going with the daughters of the woman she boarded with to the local theatre, and it was there that she decided that she wanted to be an actress. At age 17, she was given an audition at the Philharmonic School in Moscow. In February 1905, she, along with the rest of the St. Petersburg Players, left for New York. Nazimova's performances were singled out by critics and during the next few years she became a darling of the New York Theatre. In 1915, after the outbreak of World War 1, she was offered a role in the play War Brides, a plea for pacifism. Based on the film's success, in 1917, she was offered a contract with Metro for 5 years. Eventually she started producing her own films but it lead to disappointment and she returned to the theatre for good. She died in 1945 of coronary thrombosis.
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