Dancer, Actor. Born Aleksandr Borisovich Godunov, son of Boris Godunov and Lidia Nicholaevna Studentova on Sakhalin Island, USSR. He began studying dance at the age of nine at the Riga State Ballet School and at 17 he joined Igor Moiseyev's Young Ballet. He joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 1971 as its youngest principal dancer. He was chosen by prima ballerina Maya Plisetskaya to be her partner. He won a gold medal at the Moscow International Competition in 1973 before he toured the United States with the Bolshoi. Because of his outspoken admiration for America, he was not allowed to leave the Soviet Union again until 1979, rarely dancing during the period. He married soloist, Lyudmila Vlasova. When the company toured the United States again in 1979, Godunov contacted authorities in New York City and asked for political asylum. the KGB responded by immediately putting his wife on a flight to Moscow, but the plane was stopped while the State Department tried to determine if she was leaving voluntarily. Eventually she departed and he remained. After his defection he joined American Ballet Theatre, but left in 1982 after a falling out with their artistic director, fellow defector, Mikhail Baryshnikov. His divorce from Vlasova was finalized that same year. He then performed with the Asami Maki Ballet of Japan, the Israel Ballet and Maurice Bejart's Ballet of the Twentieth Century. He also studied acting and took voice lessons. He appeared in his own television show, "Godunov: The World to Dance In". in 1984 before leaving dance for an acting career. He made a notable debut in "Witness" in 1985 and also appeared in "The Money Pit" in 1986 and "Die Hard" in 1988, a year after he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. The rest of his filmography was of a lower profile as problems with alcoholism began to interfere with his work. Godunov was discovered dead in his West Hollywood home at age forty-five by a nurse who had not heard from him for ten days and decided to investigate his uncharacteristic behavior. His death was attributed to chronic alcoholism complicated by hepatitis. Godunov's ashes were scattered in the Pacific. His mother and brother, who still lived in Latvia, did not attend the service. His last film, "The Zone", was released posthumously.
Bio by: Iola