Biography of Alla Nazimova
Alla Nazimova (3 June [O.S. 22 May] 1879 – 13 July 1945) was a Russian American film and theater actress, a screenwriter, and film producer. She is perhaps best known as simply Nazimova, but also went under the name Alia Nasimoff.
She was born Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon, one of three children of Yakov Leventon and Sonya Horowitz. The family was Jewish and lived in Yalta, Crimea (then a part of the Russian Empire; now a part of Ukraine). She grew up in a dysfunctional family and after her parents' separation was shuffled among boarding schools, foster homes, and relatives. A precocious child, she was playing the violin by age seven.
As a teenager she began to pursue an interest in the theatre and took acting lessons at the Academy of Acting in Moscow before joining Constantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre as "Alla Nazimova," and later just "Nazimova." (Her stage name was a combination of her middle name Adelaida - shortened to Alla, usually a distinct Russian first name in its own right - and the surname of Nadezhda Nazimova, the heroine of the Russian novel Children of the Streets.