Valeri Zolotukhin, one of Russian cinema's most popular faces, who was disabled in his childhood and had to walk with crutches, is now a renown actor, singer, and writer.
He was born Valeri Sergeevich Zolotukhin on June 21, 1941, in Bystry Istok village, Altai region, Russia. His father was chairman of a local collective farm; a powerful man in that remote Siberian region. His mother was a homemaker. At the age of 7 Zolotukhin fell out of window and suffered a severe trauma. He had to wear a cast and used crutches for several years, but he was dreaming of becoming an actor, because he was inspired by touring drama troupe. Upon his graduation from the village school, Zolotukhin went straight to Moscow. In spite of being lame he was admitted to the Department of Musical Comedy at the Moscow Theatre Institute (GITIS). While being a student he made his name as a singer of popular folk songs. His songs, peppered with risqué vernacular lyrics and funny jokes, soon made him one of the most popular singers in Russia. Zolotukhin married his girlfriend from the acting class, Nina Shatskaya, on the Valentine's Day, February 14, 1963. That same year he graduated from the Department of Musical Comedy of the Moscow Theatre Institute (GITIS).