Nicholas Saunders had a distinguished career as a stage and television actor, and a parallel career at Voice of America, where he began in 1947 as a Russian-Language announcer, and at Radio Liberty, where he rose to be the Production and Presentation Manager of the Russian Department. In his early seventies he began another career, translating Russian plays into English with his collaborator, Frank Dwyer. The first Saunders-Dwyer translation was Anton Chekhov's unjustly neglected comic masterpiece, The Wood Demon, followed over the next two decades by Chekhov's The Sea Gull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, The Cherry Orchard, and most of the master's comic one-acts; Bulgakov's Zoya's Apartment (produced on Broadway at Circle in the Square); Gorky's The Summer People and Enemies; Turgenev's A Month in the Country; Gogol's The Government Inspector; and Ostrovsky's The Forest.
Mr. Saunders was born Nikita Soussanin in 1914 in Kiev, in what is now Ukraine. He escaped from the Soviet Union as a boy with his father, the actor Nicholas Soussanin, and was raised in Hollywood, where he graduated from Hollywood High. His stepmother was the actress Olga Baclanova.
As an actor and director, Mr. Saunders worked in 19 Broadway productions (three directed by George Abbott), including The Magnificent Yankee (produced and directed by Arthur Hopkins) and Lady in the Dark (directed by Moss Hart). He also appeared in hundreds of television programs, but he was probably best known for his featured role as Capt. Barker on The Phil Silvers Show. In later years, Mr. Saunders was a member of LA's classical Antaeus Company and played Godfather Orlovsky in the Antaeus debut production the acclaimed world premiere of the Saunders-Dwyer The Wood Demon, directed by Dwyer at the Mark Taper Forum in 1994.
Mr. Saunders was married for 67 years to Gedda Petry, a gifted actress, singer, and dancer who had also been in the Broadway cast of Lady in the Dark. Nicholas and Gedda had two children, the actress Lanna Saunders, who died in 2007, and Theo Saunders, a jazz pianist and composer, leader of the Theo Saunders Sextet. Nicholas died in August 2006, at the age of 92.