Vasily's father Boris Livanov (1904–1972) was also a prominent actor and stage director who served at the Moscow Art Theatre all his life, while his mother Eugenia Kazimirovna Livanova (née Prawdzic-Filipowicz) (1907–1978) was an artist who belonged to Polish szlachta. Vasily was brought up in the artistic milieu.
Vasily arrived shortly after the death of his father, and in a drunken rage claimed his father had been poisoned. After his father's death, a long period of troubles began for Vasily. The Defense Ministry offered to allow him to take up command of any military district but Moscow, which was the