People’s Artist of the USSRYakov Mikhailovich Smolenskiy was born on February 28th, 1920 in Petrograd.He studied at the Faculty of Philology at Leningrad State University, but he didn’t graduate because the World War II began.As a third-year student he volunteered to go to the front where he was badly injured, then there were hospital, siege, evacuation in Omsk where the Vakhtangov theater was located at the time.He finished Shchukin Theatre Institute in Omsk and worked at the Vakhtangov theatre from 1947 to 1958.At that time Yakov Mikhailovich began to perform as an elocutionist. 50 years of his work in the Moscow Conservatory gave the readings’ fans a great variety of Yakov’s programmes. Y.M. Smolenskiy became the first head of the speech department.He occupied this position over 20 years and created a wonderful school of public speaking and declamation. Many modern popular actors regard him as their teacher.Y.M. Smolenskiy is a professor and a current member of the Academy of humanities. The interacademic readers’ competition under the Shchukin Theatre Institute was named after him. Participation in this competition paved the way to the theatre world for many talented beginning actors.Yakov died on March 9th, 1995.