Richard Marner (Alexander Molchanoff)

Richard Marner

Born in Petrograd, Soviet Union, Molchanoff (nicknamed “Sacha” by his family) was the eldest son of Colonel Paul Molchanoff, of the Semyonovsky Regiment, one of two that were set up for children of children who had played with Peter the Great of Russia. In 1924, his entire family left Russia and went to Finland and then Germany, before ending up in London, where Alexander’s grandmother, Olga Novikov (known in the family as “Babushka London”) lived in Harley Street. After being educated at Monmouth School in Wales, Molchanoff became an assistant to the Russian tenor Vladimir Rosing, where he performed at Covent Garden. During World War II he joined the RAF, and was posted to South Africa with the Air Training Corps. After being invalided out, he changed his name to Richard Marner, and began his long successful career as a stage and film actor. One of Marner’s early stage roles – as Dracula, with Howard Dean – is still regarded by some as the definitive interpretation of the role.[2] In 1967, well before his role as the German Colonel in ‘Allo ‘Allo Marner played the minor and uncredited role of a German sentry in the classic war film The Dirty Dozen. His other films include Ice Cold in Alex, You Only Live Twice, The Boys from Brazil, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, The African Queen and the Swiss film Four in a Jeep, in which he did all the Russian dialogue. He was also in the television movie Birth of the Beatles, as Bruno Koschmider.

Marner’s best known role was in ‘Allo ‘Allo! as German Commandant Colonel Kurt Von Strohm. He appeared in all nine series of the programme between 1984 and 1992. He also appears in an episode of Secret Army, the programme that ‘Allo ‘Allo parodies. Latest work included guest shots in Lovejoy (1994) and the film The Sum of All Fears (as the Russian president). In 1991, when Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the RSFSR Boris Yeltsin, convened a “Congress of Compatriots” (an olive branch to some of the post-1917 White Russian diaspora), Marner was one of the 600 people who returned to the motherland. Despite being caught up in a coup, he stayed long enough to watch, through tearful eyes, the raising of the first Imperial Russian flag flown in Moscow since the 1920s. He died in Perth, Scotland and left a wife, actress Pauline Farr, who retained Molchanoff as her off-stage name. Marner was fluent in Russian, English, French and German, and was also survived by a daughter – Helen – and three grandchildren.


  • March, 27, 1921
  • St. Petersburg, Russia


  • March, 18, 2004
  • United Kingdom
  • Perth, Scotland


  • Cremated

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