Home ArtsMovies Irene Papas, Actress in ‘Zorba the Greek’ and Greek Tragedies, Dies at 96

Irene Papas, Actress in ‘Zorba the Greek’ and Greek Tragedies, Dies at 96

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Greek actress Irene Papas, who starred in films like ‘Z’, ‘Zorba the Greek’ and ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and earned the greatest acclaim of her career for playing the heroine of a Greek tragedy, died Wednesday. I was. She was 96 years old.

The death was confirmed by email by a spokesperson for the Greek Ministry of Culture. Although the cause of death was not known, it was announced in 2018 that Pappas had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for five years.

Ms Pappas was best known to American moviegoers for her very serious and sensual roles in the 1960s. In The Guns of Navarone (1961), partly filmed in Rhodes, she played a World War II resistance fighter and a team of Allied saboteurs (Gregory Peck, David Niven, Anthony Quinn). etc.) did what they were trying to do. She should not shoot an unarmed woman because she is a traitor.

In “Greek Zorba” (1964), alongside Mr. Quinn, she was a Greek widow who was stoned by fellow villagers for choosing a lover. In Costagabras’ Oscar-winning political thriller “Z” (1969), set in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, she played Eve her Montando widow.

During the same decade, however, she made a name for herself with Greek film adaptations of classical plays. Often directed by her countryman Michael Her Kakoyanis, who also directed her “Zorba.” She played the title her character in “Antigone” (1961). This is the story of Sophocles, a woman who pays a lot after fighting for her brother’s right to an honorable burial. and in “Elektra” (1962) she and her brother plan a matricide. She was also Elektra’s mother, Clytemnestra, in “Iphigenia” (1977), a drama about her daughter being offered as a human sacrifice to her.

In 1971, she won the National Board of Review Award for Best Actress for her role as Helen of Troy in The Trojan Woman. Her co-stars were Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave.

Pappas was born Eirini Lelekou on September 3, 1926 in Chirimodi, a small village near Corinth, Greece, and was raised in Athens. She is one of her four daughters of her two school teachers and she entered drama school at the age of twelve. By the time she turned 18, she had already played both Elektra and Lady Macbeth. But she got her first professional stage role in 1948 as a party-hopping socialite in a musical.

She made her film debut the same year in Nikos Tsifolos’ drama Hamenoi Angeloi (“Fallen Angel”) and appeared in 14 films in the 1950s. ”

Director Elia Kazan is best known for discovering Ms. Pappas. On her 1954 trip to the United States, she read a scene from “Country Girl” for him. The following year, she signed her seven-year contract with MGM, though her only one film was produced under that contract. A Tribute to a Bad Man (1956), a western starring James Cagney.

Pappas’ other films include Boobrina (1959), in which she played a heroine of the 18th century Greek Revolution. “Brotherhood” (1968), as the Mafia Wife (to Kirk Douglas); “Anne of a Thousand Days” (1969), as Catherine of Aragon abandoned opposite Richard Burton’s Henry VIII. “Chronicles of the Prophetic Death” (1987), based on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez.

Greek tragedy was also the focus of her New York stage career. She made her Broadway debut in 1967 in “That Summer—That Fall,” based on “Fedor,” playing her passionate second wife who falls in love with her stepson (Jon Voight). However, it ended after only her 12 performances. The following year she was Clytemnestra in the Circle in the Square in Iphigenia of Aulis. She returned to Circle in the Square as the title character of a woman who kills her own child in her “Medea” (1973) and her “The Batch” (1980).

She was also a singer. She made her two albums of Greek folk songs and hymns, ‘Odes’ (1979) and ‘Rapsodies’ (1986). Rock group Aphrodite’s Child.

She has strong political feelings for her country and has made them public. In 1967, after a military junta took control, she called for a “cultural boycott” of Greece, stating that “Nazism was back in Greece” and making the country’s new leader “a band of blackmailers.” No,” putting his civil rights in jeopardy. she never came back.

In interviews, Ms. Pappas spoke of her desire to quit acting and her regrettable tendency to become too submissive to directors, but she continued acting in films well into her seventies. “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” (2001), in which he played Drosoura, the formidable mother of Bale), and “Um Filme Falado” (“The Talking Picture”), a 2003 meditation by Manoel de Oliveira. was A civilization depicting a privileged actress as she sails the Mediterranean Sea.

She married director and actor Alquis Pappas in 1947 and divorced four years later. A brief 1957 marriage to her producer Jose Cohn was annulled. She never married again.

A spokesman for the Greek Ministry of Culture said she was survived by her nephews.

Papas, who played such an ancient Greek character, had a world view that woven thousands of years of history and philosophy. “Plato made his first mistake” she told roger ebert In 1969, in the Chicago Sun-Times, he lamented the needless delay of the scientific revolution. “He started talking about souls and morals and prevented gourmets from exploring human nature.”

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