In 1956 Vysotsky dropped out of the Moscow State Construction University, where he was a freshman at the time, and entered the MkhAT (Moscow Art Theater) studio-school. Four years later he graduated from the theater school and started working at the Pushkin Drama Theater in Moscow. But already two years later he left the theater to join the Theater of Miniatures. Vysotsky’s friends used to joke that the actor was fired from that theater “for a total lack of a sense of humor”.
In the fall of 1964, Vysotsky was admitted to the Taganka Theater, where he worked till his last days. He took part in 15 performances in that theater (including “The Life of Galileo”, “Cherry Orchard” and “Hamlet”).
Together with the other Taganka actors, he often went on tours abroad: they visited Bulgaria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, France, Germany and Poland. Having received permission to visit his wife Marina Vlady, who lived in France, he also managed to visit the USA, as well as Canada, Tahiti and other places.
In 1966, Vysotsky started acting in movies. A movie called “The Vertical” made him famous. His songs were included in the soundtrack to the movie. In total, Vladimir Vysotsky participated in 30 films and even one cartoon: the actor voiced Goodwin in “The Wizard of the Emerald City” cartoon.
The physician who worked with Vysotsky recalls that his vocal cords were an unusual shape: false vocal cords covered the true vocal cords and caused the singer pain, according to the doctor. But he refused to undergo a surgery, as he was afraid of losing his unique timbre.
Vysotsky gave over 1000 concerts in the USSR and abroad. He earned a very nice living from his artistic work in the terms of those times. In June 1980, for 22 concerts given in Kaliningrad, Vysotsky received a wage of 6,000 rubles (or 6% of total box-office revenues). This was a huge sum of money in the 1980's, even for a performer of the highest standing. One could purchase six cars with that amount of money.
However, despite his popularity, in Russia, only seven music records with his songs were released during his lifetime. The main releases were in Paris or the USA. The total number of his records, audiocassettes and CDs sold to date is unknown, but they are easily in the range of dozens of millions of copies.