May 24 (UPI) -- Alexander Burdonsky, Russian theater director and grandson of Soviet Union strongman Josef Stalin, died of cancer, the Central Russian Army Theater announced. He was 75.
The Moscow theater, where he staged over 20 plays in his career, reported that he had also been suffering from heart problems.
Burdonsky, born Alexander Stalin, took his mother's maiden name when he pursued a career in the performing arts. His father, Vasily Stalin, died an alcoholic at 40, the BBC said.
Two years ago Burdonsky told an interviewer he only saw his grandfather, who died in 1953, "during the May and December parades from the stands." He referred to his grandfather, officially the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union -- but in reality, the leader and dictator of the Soviet Union from 1922 until his death -- as a Shakespearean character with a mix of genius and madness. He added that he came to see Stalin as a pivotal 20th-century political figure, despite his reputation for tyranny.
Burdonsky's death follows that of another Stalin grandson, Yevgeny Dzhugashvili. Prior to his 2016 death, Dzhugashvili took a newspaper to the European Court of Human Rights after it referred to Stalin as a "bloodthirsty cannibal." He lost the case.
In his career as a theatrical director, Budonsky won the People's Artist of Russia award and directed Playing on the Keys of The Soul, This Madman Platanov and other productions.