Life and death under the big top Irina Asmus: the Tragic story of a clown Toffee from “Abvgdeyka»
One of the most popular children’s TV shows in the USSR was “Avbgdeika”, which was conducted by Tatyana Chernyaeva and clowns Klepa, Levushkin, Yura and Toffee (Irina Asmus). The kids were crazy about her. Natural charm, a flair for the dramatic and incredible ease of Toffee had both children and adults. In 1985, she suddenly disappeared from the program, and a year later it became known about her tragic death during a performance in the circus. The audience could not believe what had happened for a long time.
Irina Asmus from childhood dreamed of becoming an artist, but she could not choose between the theater, stage and circus. Initially, she intended to enter the choreographic school of the Bolshoi theater, but the admissions Committee warned her that, despite her talent, with such a small stature, she would never be able to become a prima ballerina. Then Irina took the documents and submitted them to the State school of variety and circus arts.
While still studying, she starred in the film “New adventures of Puss in boots”, and after graduating from school, she began working in a circus. Fate was giving her signs that she didn’t consider a warning at the time. Irina worked as an equalizer on perches – long sticks that were used to perform tricks under the dome of the circus. During one of the rehearsals, the artist fell and was seriously injured. Doctors forbade her to work at height, and her disobedience had disastrous consequences.
Then Irina Asmus returned to her passion for theater – she entered the drama Studio at the Leningrad young spectator theater, later moved to the theater. V. Komissarzhevskaya. However, without the circus, she could not stand it for a long time and returned to the arena as a clowness.
Irina Asmus performed under the pseudonym Toffee. Under this name it remember the millions of Soviet children, who saw it in the program “Abvgdeyka.” In the late 1970s, Toffee became incredibly popular. Once on tour, children gathered under the Windows of the hotel where the artists were staying. Toffee jokingly told them to come after school and show them their grade diaries. A few hours later, the students gathered again to proudly display their “b’s”and ” fives”.
In 1985, Irina Asmus was suspended from the TV program without explanation. It is difficult to say what was the real reason. The audience’s claims were quite unexpected. So, one day a letter came to the address of television with a stupid accusation of a clowness that she tied a tree with a bandage after scratching it: “it is Commendable that clowns take care of trees, but will it be pleasant to walk through the forest with bandaged trees?»
In March 1986, Irina went on tour to Gomel. During the performance of the trick under the dome of the circus, in front of a thousand and a half spectators, she fell off and fell from a 12-meter height. The performance continued, and the circus visitors did not even suspect that the artist had died.
The former head of the personnel Department of the Gomel circus A. Bogomaz later said: “the Investigation was conducted very seriously, with drawings and investigative experiments. Colleagues once told me in a heart-to-heart conversation: the artist herself is to blame for the death. There was a loose nut in the rotation machine. For safety reasons, before each performance, Toffee herself had to check whether everything was in order with the equipment. She didn’t do it that day.” At that time, the incident was blamed on a safety engineer and an inspector of the arena. After the death of the artist, this type of machines for rotation was banned.