Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev (R) shouts "This is my America" at a New York cabbie from his window at the Russian U.N. delegation's headquarters during the 1960 United Nations' General Assembly. File Photo by Gary Haynes/UPI
MOSCOW (UPI) -- Former Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev, 77, died today after a heart attack, family friends said.
Ousted from power Oct. 15, 1964, by the current ruling group, Khrushchev was last seen in public this summer when he and his wife Nina voted in Moscow city elections.
Portly and outspoken, Khrushchev turned his political cunning and peasant shrewdness into supreme leadership of the Soviet Union within five years after the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953.
Family and friends said Khrushchev died this morning in a hospital after he was stricken at his country estate by his third major heart attack.
He will be buried in Novodevichy Cemetery, Moscow's second-ranking burial ground for fall heroes, probably Monday.
As his earthy manners suggested, Khrushchev was born a peasant. The heights of power to which he ascended never robbed him of the blunt good humor he acquired as a boy in the village of Kalinovka, 130 miles south of Moscow where he was he was born April 17, 1894.
Many of his contemporaries, especially sophisticated city dwellers, resented such earthiness in a national leader. They regarded him as a buffoon and were relieved when he fell from power in 1964.
Other Russians respected Khrushchev's honesty even as they winced at some of his jokes and they trusted him in every crisis.
Khrushchev's life was a chronicle of crises, from his struggle to survive in the miserable conditions of a prerevolutionary coal mine to losing his battle with old age and heart trouble.