ALCOHOLISM BLAMED IN DEATH OF RUSSIAN BALLET STAR GODUNOV

Published: Saturday, May 20 1995 12:00 a.m. MDT

      Russian ballet star Alexander Godunov, 45, whose body was found in his West Hollywood condominium Thursday, died of acute alcoholism, his spokeswoman said Friday.

      "Rumors of his death as a result of AIDS or suicide are absolutely not true," spokeswoman Evelyn Shriver said in her statement."Unfortunately, alcoholism is a terrible disease and one that often seems beyond the afflicted to overcome. Mr. Godunov was such a strong individual and in such prime athletic shape due to his lifelong training as a dancer that his death came as a shock even to those of us who were closest to him," Shriver said.

      Godunov's body was discovered in his living room by a nurse who tended to him regularly and who went to his home Thursday because she had not heard from him since May 8.

      Police said they did not suspect foul play in the death of the dancer turned actor. Sgt. Bob Minutello told reporters Thursday there were indications that Godunov had abused alcohol in the past.

      Godunov made world headlines when he defected from the then-Soviet Union to the United States while touring America with the Bolshoi Ballet.

      He later embarked on an uneventful acting career, appearing in a half-dozen movies.

      Shriver said Godunov had completed the filming of his latest movie, "The Zone," in Budapest, Hungary, in April.

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