The Soviet Union’s Best Heart-Throbs and Pinups

Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin | © ITU Pictures
Zita Whalley

There were many hunks and hotties to swoon over during Soviet times. Including actors, athletes, musicians and national icons, here are seven Soviet men that made women weak at the knees.

The Soviet poster boy, Yuri Gagarin

As the first man to enter outer space, Yuri Gagarin earned a superstar status that only a few Soviet artists, actors and musicians can compete with. To claim his position, Gagarin had to demonstrate that his ability to endure difficult situations and his physical strength were greater than the other nine cosmonauts vying for the role. He also had to have the character to flourish under the international spotlight – and that he did. Lauded for his bravery, skill and resilience (and his dazzling smile), Gagarin returned to Earth as an international hero and toured the world as a Soviet icon, wooing political figures and the general public with his charm and ability to drink a lot of vodka.

Yuri Gagarin was the first man sent into space.

The leading man, Vasily Lanovoy

The Soviet Union’s leading man, Vasily Lanovoy

The moody musician, Vladimir Vysotsky

The Soviet Union’s iconic broody bard, Vladimir Vysotsky’s fame hung off his clever, satirical lyricism and soulfulness. He was loved by everyone, both young and old, and spoke to the Soviet masses about the daily struggles they all shared. He died from a heart attack while Moscow was hosting the 1980 Olympic Games. So strong was his fanship, thousands of Moscovites ignored the on-going games and flowed onto the streets in an impromptu tribute to Vystotsky. The number of mourners was comparable to the public display of grief for Stalin’s death in 1953.

The clown, Andrei Mironov

Mironov was an actor who was known and revered for his comic timing and wit. He started his career as a stage actor, joining The Moscow Theatre of Satire after graduating from acting school. He flexed his comedic range playing the leads in some of the Soviet Union’s most loved comedies, such as the hapless tourist-turned-jewellery smuggler in The Diamond Arm. This role secured his stardom and position as one of the Soviet Union’s top comedy actors. He continued to work in theatre right up until his premature death. Mironov collapsed on stage while touring The Marriage of Figaro in Latvia in 1987 and died nine days later from a brain haemorrhage.

The crooner, Muslim Magomaev

Dubbed the ‘Soviet Sinatra’, Magomaev was a smooth singer with a knack for opera and pop. He came from esteemed Azerbaijani artistic lineage; his parents and grandparents were all respected artists. So, it is no surprise he started singing and playing music in his teenage years. His breakout performance happened when he was 23 years old in 1963. He was one of the artists invited to sing at the Kremlin during an Azeri culture showcase. From there, his natural talent and charisma won over hearts across the Soviet Union.

The athlete, Valery Kharlamov

Kharlamov was one of the Soviet Union’s greatest sports stars. Considered one of the greatest ice hockey players in Soviet history, Kharlamov had a prolific but short career before his life was cut short in a car crash. He first began to skate at the age of five. In his teenage years, doctors discovered Kharlamov had a heart condition and advised him to quit physical activities. Defying doctors orders, Kharlamov continued to skate and play ice hockey and went on to win all of the medal colours at the Olympic Games, World Championships and European Championships.

The rock legend, Viktor Tsoi

Viktor Tsoi was the Soviet Union’s ultimate rock ‘n’ roll leading man. His untimely death at the age of 28 cemented his god-like status with hundreds of thousands of young Soviets. His band, Kino, emerged out of the Petrograd (St. Petersburg) rock scene of the ’80s and ’90s – a movement that swept up a generation of young, disenfranchised people. As perestroika and glasnost began to chip away at the structures that propped up the Soviet Union, Tsoi’s music became synonymous with the possibility of change and the promise of a different future that marked this volatile time. Tsoi and Kino remain cultural icons today.

Georgy Guryanov and Viktor Tsoi (right) from key Russian rock band Kino
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article