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Legendary Georgian Screenwriter, Director, Puppeteer Rezo Gabriadze Dead At 84

Rezo Gabriadze in 2011

TBILISI -- Georgian theater and film luminary Rezo Gabriadze, known across the former Soviet Union as the screenwriter of several blockbuster movies from the 1960s to the '80s, has died in Tbilisi at the age of 84.

Gabriadze's relatives, friends, and colleagues say he died on June 6 after years of an unspecified illness.

One of the Soviet art world's most famous figures, Gabriadze was also known internationally for his original puppet theater productions and his founding of the popular Puppet Theater in Tbilisi.

Gabriadze wrote dozens of films, including several popular Soviet-era comedies directed by the late Georgiy Daneliya, such as Don't Grieve (1968), Mimino (1977), and the cult science-fiction comedy Kin-Dza-Dza, which was shot in the wake of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev's reforms in 1986.

Gabriadze was also known as an artist, sculptor, and illustrator. Many of his works are held in state and private collections in the United States, Germany, France, Japan, and Israel.