Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (Russian: Влади́мир Семёнович Высо́цкий, Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotskyj) (25 January 1938, Moscow, Soviet Union – 25 July 1980, Moscow, Soviet Union) was an iconic Soviet and Russian singer, songwriter, poet, and actor of mixed Jewish and Russian descent whose career had an immense and enduring effect on Russian culture. Although best known as a singer-songwriter, he was also a prominent stage and screen actor. The multifaceted talent of Vladimir Vysotsky is often described by the word "bard" (бард), a term that carried a special meaning in the Soviet Union. Vysotsky was never enthusiastic about this term, however. He thought of himself mainly as an actor and writer rather than a singer, and once remarked, "I do not belong to what people call bards or minstrels or whatever." Though his work was largely ignored by the official Soviet cultural establishment, he achieved remarkable fame during his lifetime, and to this day exerts significant influence on many of Russia's popular musicians and actors who wish to emulate his iconic status.
Vladimir Vysotsky was born in Moscow. His father was a Jewish career army officer (a Colonel). His mother was a Russian German language translator. His parents divorced shortly after his birth, and he was brought up by his father and stepmother of Armenian descent, whom he called "Aunt" Yevgenia. He spent two years of his childhood living with his father and stepmother at a military base in Eberswalde in the Soviet-occupied section of post-WWII Germany (later GDR).
In 1955, Vladimir enrolled in the Moscow Institute of Civil Engineering (МИСИ), but dropped out after just one semester to pursue an acting career. In 1959, he started acting at the Aleksandr Pushkin Theatre where he had mostly small parts.