Oleg Popov, the famous Soviet and Russian clown, died during the tour in Rostov-on-Don. He was 87, and despite old age, he felt fine; nothing seemed to be out of order.
His death was sudden, said Dmitriy Ivanov, the CEO for Russian State Circus.
‘He was fine; he was just sitting there, watching TV, and the cardiac arrest happened – so unexpectedly…,’ Ivanov said.
The farewell ceremony for Popov will take place in Russia; he will be buried in Germany where he has resided over the last two decades.
Popov was called the "Clown Soleil" ("Sunshine clown") by French journalist Jacqueline Carter — a nickname that eventually stuck.
Popov was born in 1930, as the son of a clock-repairman. In 1955, he performed abroad for the first time, in Warsaw, and the following year, he toured with the Moscow Circus in France, Belgium, and England, and was immediately noticed by the press, which made him a circus star. The Soviet regime would quickly build onto his success abroad and transform Oleg Popov into a goodwill ambassador for the Soviet Union.
In the early 1990s, at the fall of the Soviet Union, he began touring for a few years with a unit of the Moscow Circus in Germany, where he eventually resettled. He has since performed extensively in Germany, in circus shows, on television, or with his own touring show. He married Gabriela Lehmann, a German circus performer, in 1991, she is 32 years younger than her husband. In 2006, Oleg Popov was invited to perform at the 30th anniversary of the International Circus Festival of Monte-Carlo; at 75 years of age, he still managed to inspire a standing ovation.