Obituary: Irene Papas, Zorba, Greek star who has also been praised for her powerful rendering of classic dramas

Irene Papas, a Greek actress who displayed tragic heroism and dignity in films such as Zorba the Greek and The Guns of Navarone, and was critically acclaimed in Greek television series Classics including Electra and Antigone, have passed away. She is 96 years old.

Greece’s Culture Minister, Lina Mendoni, who announced his death in a statement, called Papas “majestic, dignified, dynamic … an international star that radiates Greece Lap”.

Papas has appeared in more than 70 films and stage productions in Italy, France and the United States during a career spanning five decades.

She is hailed by her admirers as an ambassador of Greek culture and universal values ​​for her powerful historical performances.

She was also part of a generation of Greek artists and intellectuals forced into exile during the country’s military rule from 1967 to 1974.

During her career, she often describes herself as extroverted and pragmatic. She talked about how she was debilitated by the competition for parts and was repeatedly cast in roles that tried to exploit her expressive eyes and healthy face which some reviewers have likened to the ideal of what is. beauty of the ancient Greeks.

She is outspoken in public on topics such as politics and art but admits that she often obediently obeys her director on set or on stage.

She told film critic Roger Ebert in 1969. “Sometimes I think I should simply stop acting.” One should change careers often. I kept repeating my same skills over and over again. My mind is deep in laughter and tears.”

Papas appeared in a number of Greek films beginning in the late 1940s.

A trip to the United States in 1954 brought her to the attention of director Elia Kazan, whose latest film, On the river bank, Marlon Brando starred. (Papas later said that she and Brando shared a decades-long love affair.)

Papas signed a 7-year contract with MGM. It only leads to a single movie, Remembering a bad man (1956), a Western film starring James Cagney. Papas’ breakthrough in Hollywood comes with Navarone Gun (In 1961).

Papas was born Eirini Lelekou on September 3, 1926, in Chiliomodi, Greece, a village near Corinth, where her mother was a teacher and her father taught classical drama.

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The family moved to Athens when she was young, enrolling her in the Royal School of Dramatic Art – which managed to sustain her education during the years of Nazi occupation of the Greek capital during the Second World War. Immediately after graduating in 1948, Mrs. Papas began working in Greek theater and cinema productions.

She was married twice: to actor Alkis Papas from 1947 to 1951 and briefly, in 1957, to producer José Kohn.

In 2004 after Brando’s death, Papas called him “the greatest passion of my life” despite barely keeping an eye on the public affair for decades.

Her awards include the Golden Lion at the 2009 Venice Biennale for lifetime achievement.

© The Washington Post 2022

© Washington Post

https://www.independent.ie/entertainment/theatre-arts/obituary-irene-papas-zorba-the-greek-star-who-was-also-hailed-for-powerful-renderings-of-classical-dramas-41997136.html Obituary: Irene Papas, Zorba, Greek star who has also been praised for her powerful rendering of classic dramas

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