Aleksandr Shirvindt, film and theatre actor
I have never met anyone like Kobzon, in all my long life, and since I am much older than our birthday boy, I do not think I will. He is a phenomenon unattached to any epoch, a child of the Universe. Be it in the presidium or the speaker’s stand, on stage or at a bathhouse, drinking with friends or lobbying at the Duma, he is always ring-fenced and central. His magnetic power and charisma are way above the ordinary, hence can be occasionally intimidating or irritating to some, raising their hackles. There is no show in his kindness, nor selectivity in his generosity. He is an object lesson for contestants in the ‘Man of …’ category. He is an all-Russian Rabbi, thinking, speaking, singing and living not to a recording of the day but to the tune of his personal choice and wisdom.