Alexander Nikolayevich Vertinsky (Russian: Алекса́ндр Никола́евич Верти́нский, 21 March 1889 in Kiev — 21 May 1957 in Leningrad, Polish: Aleksander Wertyński) was a Russian and Soviet artist, poet, singer, composer, cabaret artist and actor who exerted seminal influence on the Russian tradition of artistic singing.
Born out of wedlock, Vertinsky was brought up by his father's sister in Kiev, Ukraine, then part of the Russian Empire. He was expelled from school in 1905 and tried a variety of jobs before starting to earn his living by contributing short stories to the Kievan periodicals. In 1912, Vertinsky and his sister moved to Moscow, where he failed in his ambition to join Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre. During that time, he became addicted to cocaine, a habit that would claim the life of his sister.
By 1916, Vertinsky started to employ a scenic figure of Pierrot, with powdered face, singing miniature novellas-in-song known as ariettas, or "Pierrot's doleful ditties". Each song contained a prologue, exposition, culmination, and a tragic finale. The novice performer was christened the "Russian Pierrot", gained renown, became an object of imitation, admiration, vilified in the press and lionized by the audiences.