He was a survivor. He had lived through the Stalin period, the Molotov era at the Foreign Ministry, and Khrushchev's roller coaster diplomacy. He had been Foreign Minister since 1957.
The price of survival included being the butt of the crude jokes of whoever was the top Soviet leader.
Khrushchev once boasted to a foreign visitor that if Gromyko were asked to sit on a block of ice with his pants down, he would do so unquestioningly until ordered to leave it. Brezhnev's humor, though less brutal, made the same point.
Gromyko's face would crease...