Kazakh actor, director, USSR People’s Artist, Stalin Award Winner, Kazakh SSR State Award Winner.
Born on 15 February 1914 in Bayanaul (now in Pavlodar Region, Kazakhstan). In 1931 - 1933, studied in Kazakh Institute of Education in Semipalatinsk.
Since 1933 worked in Kazakh Drama Theater (now M. Auezov Kazakh Academic Drama Theater), where he played over 100 lead parts, including Petruccio in The Taming of the Shrew, Khlestakov in The Inspector General, Qodar in Qozy Korpesh – Bayan Sulu and many others.
While working the theater, he staged a number of shows, including A. Ostrovsky’s Talents and Admirers, G. Musrepov’s Poets’ Tragedy and others. Aimanov’s every work, both in modern and classic repertoire, turned into sold out major cultural events.
In 1940, Lenfilm Studios director M. Levin invited Aimanov to play Sarsen in his Raikhan. It was a first film based on Kazakh characters and themes, with its script written by Mukhtar Auezov. Then Aimanov played a war veteran in White Rose (TSOKS, 1942), Abai’s disciple Sharip in Songs of Abai (1946), and Dossanov in Golden Horn (1948).
In 1953, Djambul was released. The then 38-year-old actor played both a youth making his first steps in life and the centenarian giant of Kazakh folk poetry. It was the first time he played a male lead on silver screen, which not only made him famous and demonstrated a gold standard for a “national character” but also helped Aimanov to see the filmmaking world from the inside and gauge the power of motion pictures, and redefined his further artistic career.
Aimanov’s professional growth as a filmmaker was fast paced and his bravura acting and directing work quickly received popular acclaim. In 1954, his directorial debut A Love’s Poem is released.
Over the span of 15 years of his career in film, he made over 10 full feature films, which rightfully are in the gold pool of Kazakh motion pictures. Since 1953 until his premature death in 1970, Shaken Aimanov was the artistic director of the national film studios, who continuously worked as screenwriter, actor, director and head of Kazakhstan Filmmakers Union he himself founded.
Aimanov’s body of work is characterized by his keen interest to contemporary affairs and diversity of genres. More than half of his film were based on post-war material. His films dealt with such themes as internationalism and inter-ethnic friendship. Being an accomplished actor himself, he put a lot of effort in character work. His last picture was an historic epic and adventure film Ataman’s End. His next film was to be a screen adaptation of Mukhtar Auezov’s classic Kazakh novel Abai…
He was a member of USSR Communist Party since 1940. Was elected as Member of Kazakh SSR Supreme Council ‘s 4th and 7th sessions. In 1947, he was awarded the title of USSR People’s Artist; in 1952, he received USSR State Award for stage adaptation of Abai; he was twice awarded the Kazakh SSR State Award; decorated with the Order of Lenin and other orders and medals. In 2007, he was awarded the title of Screen Master.
In Almaty, a street and national film studios were named after Shaken Aimanov in 1984. The house where Aimanov lived and the studios building where he worked feature commemorative
plaques. Aimanov’s office at the film studios was turned into a museum. In Pavlodar, a movie theater is named after Shaken Aimanov.