Alla Nazimova (Russian and ; (13 July 1945, born Miriam Edez Adelaida Leventon, was a Russian/American theater and film actress, screenwriter, and producer. She is perhaps best known as simply Nazimova, but also went under the name Alia Nasimoff.
Nazimova was one of three children of Yakov Leventon and Sonya Horowitz. The family was Jewish and lived in Yalta, Crimea, then part of the Russian Empire. 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 and the surname of Nadezhda Nazimova, the heroine of the Russian novel Children of the Streets.
Nazimova’s theater career blossomed early; and by 1903 she was a major star in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. She toured Europe, including London and Berlin, with her boyfriend Pavel Orlenev, a flamboyant actor and producer. In 1905 they moved to New York City and founded a Russian-language theater on the Lower East Side. The venture was unsuccessful; and Orlenev returned to Russia while Nazimova stayed in New York.