She has been in the United States only a month, but 29-year-old Russian-American actress Victoria Fyodorova has quickly and comfortably settled into her American half. It is a part of her life that for years was shrouded in mystery.
“She’s having herself a time,” says her father, retired rear admiral Jack Tate. Tate first saw his stunning daughter last month, the dramatic climax of their 12-year effort to find each other. “We took her shopping and she bought more clothes than you could shake a stick at,” adds Tate. “Then a bunch of sailors gave her a French poodle.”
Tate, now 77, was a Navy captain in 1945 when he paid court for five months to handsome Soviet actress Zoya Fyodorova. When the Soviets discovered their love affair, Zoya was banished on a road tour and Tate ordered to Washington. Their last hours together were on V-E day, 1945. If a child resulted, Zoya promised Tate, she would name it Victor or Victoria.
An American interpreter in Moscow learned of the wartime romance from Zoya in 1959 (PEOPLE, Feb. 17) and acted as intermediary in the effort to unite father and daughter. The meeting became possible last winter when the Soviets issued Victoria a 90-day visa.
After two and a half weeks in seclusion with her father in a Florida beach hideaway, “Vicky” (as she was quickly called) returned to Tate’s Orange Park, Fla. home, where she met her stepmother, “Hazey,” and half brother, Hugh Tate, 51. Victoria, a star in Soviet films, spent some of her time fishing for perch in the Saint Johns River behind Hugh’s home. “I like to fish in the Moscow River,” she says in her halting English. “But now also this river. It is good to me.”
Before returning to Mother Russia in June, Victoria will get the complete media hype. She will tour central Florida in a mobile home, visit Disney World and take part in Victoria Fyodorova Day in Cypress Gardens. She will then touch down in Hollywood, New York, Miami, Paris and London.
Victoria may go back not only with exciting memories but with American citizenship and a U.S. passport, if Tate’s plan to adopt her comes off. The passport would be the most valuable souvenir of all—she could use it to visit her new American home again next year.