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Alexander Godunov : Die Hard Movie Star

Aleksandr Borisovich Godunov was a Russian ballet dancer and actor, whose defection caused a diplomatic incident between the USA and the USSR. He joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 1971 and rose to become premier dancer before defecting to the USA in 1979. After briefly dancing with the American Ballet Theatre, he gave up ballet and turned to film acting, playing roles that included an Amish farmer in Witness in 1985; Karl, a terrorist psychopath, in Die Hard; Max, the maestro, in The Money Pit; and Vronsky in Anna Karenina in 1987. He died of alcoholism and complications of hepatitis at the age of 45.
On 23 August 1979, while on a tour with the Bolshoi Ballet in New York City, Godunov contacted authorities and asked for political asylum. After discovering his absence, the KGB responded by putting his wife, Lyudmila Vlasova, a soloist with the company, on a plane to Moscow, but the flight was stopped before take-off while the State Department tried to determine whether she was leaving voluntarily. Then U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Russian Premier Leonid Brezhnev became involved in the incident. Finally, after three days, the plane was allowed to take off, returning Vlasova to her family in Russia. Godunov spent a year trying to get her back, but to no avail. The two of them, known as the "Romeo and Juliet of the cold war", were divorced in 1982.
Godunov joined the American Ballet Theater and danced as a principal until 1982 when he had a falling-out with his long-time friend and director of the company Mikhail Baryshnikov. He travelled briefly with his own troupe, turned to acting in Hollywood, and became involved in a long-standing romance with actress Jacqueline Bisset, which ended in 1988. His most famous role was as the hunky ruthless terrorist, Karl who killed the two security guards in Die Hard.
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