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

Irene Papas, a Greek actress who starred in movies like “Z,” “Zorba the Greek” and “The Weapons of Navarone” however gained the best acclaim of her profession enjoying the heroines of Greek tragedy, died on Wednesday. She was 96.

The loss of life was confirmed by Panagiotis Panagopoulos, a spokesman for the Greek Tradition Ministry, in an e mail. He didn’t know the reason for loss of life, however in 2018, it was introduced that Ms. Papas had been dwelling with Alzheimer’s illness for 5 years.

Ms. Papas was greatest identified by American moviegoers for her intensely critical and sultry-strong roles within the Nineteen Sixties. In “The Weapons of Navarone” (1961), filmed partly on the island of Rhodes, she performed a World Conflict II resistance fighter who dared to do what a crew of Allied saboteurs (amongst them Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn) wouldn’t: shoot an unarmed girl as a result of she was a traitor.

In “Zorba the Greek” (1964), with Mr. Quinn, she was a Greek widow who’s stoned by her fellow villagers due to her alternative of lover. In Costa-Gavras’s Oscar-winning political thriller “Z” (1969), set within the Greek metropolis of Thessaloniki, she performed Yves Montand’s widow, who evoked the movie’s that means with one closing grief-ridden look out to sea.

However in the identical decade, she was making her title in Greek movie variations of classical performs, usually directed by her countryman Michael Cacoyannis, who additionally directed “Zorba.” She performed the title characters in “Antigone” (1961), Sophocles’s story of a girl who pays dearly after combating for her brother’s proper to an honorable burial; and in “Electra” (1962), during which she and her brother plot matricide. She was additionally Electra’s mom, Clytemnestra, in “Iphigenia” (1977), the drama of a daughter provided as human sacrifice.

In 1971, she obtained the Nationwide Board of Evaluation’s greatest actress award for her function as Helen of Troy in “The Trojan Girls.” Her co-stars had been Katharine Hepburn and Vanessa Redgrave.

Ms. Papas was born Eirini Lelekou on Sept. 3, 1926, in Chiliomodi, Greece, a small village close to Corinth, and grew up in Athens. She was one among 4 daughters of two schoolteachers and entered drama college at age 12. By the point she was 18, she had already performed each Electra and Girl Macbeth. However her first skilled stage function, in 1948, was as a party-hopping society woman in a musical.

She made her movie debut the identical 12 months, in Nikos Tsiforos’s drama “Hamenoi Angeloi” (“Fallen Angels”), and appeared in 14 movies throughout the Nineteen Fifties — some American, some European — earlier than her breakout function in “The Weapons of Navarone.”

The director Elia Kazan is commonly credited with discovering Ms. Papas. On a 1954 journey to the USA, she learn a scene from “The Nation Woman” for him. The next 12 months, she was given a seven-year contract by MGM, though she made just one movie beneath it: “Tribute to a Dangerous Man” (1956), a western starring James Cagney.

Ms. Papas’s different movies included “Bouboulina” (1959), during which she performed an 18th-century Greek revolutionary heroine; “The Brotherhood” (1968), as a Mafia spouse (to Kirk Douglas); “Anne of the Thousand Days” (1969), because the discarded Catherine of Aragon reverse Richard Burton’s Henry VIII; and “Chronicle of a Loss of life Foretold” (1987), based mostly on the novel by Gabriel García Márquez.

The Greek tragedies had been the main focus of her New York stage profession as properly. She made her Broadway debut in 1967 in “That Summer season — That Fall,” based mostly on “Phèdre,” enjoying a passionate second spouse in love together with her stepson (Jon Voight), however the manufacturing closed after solely 12 performances. The next 12 months, she was Clytemnestra in a Circle within the Sq. manufacturing of “Iphigenia in Aulis.” She returned to Circle within the Sq. because the title character, a girl who kills her personal youngsters, in “Medea” (1973) and as Agave, who mistakenly kills her personal son throughout an orgy of medication, drink and violence, in “The Bacchae” (1980).

She was additionally a singer. She made two albums of Greek folks songs and hymns, “Odes” (1979) and “Rapsodies” (1986), and created one thing of a scandal with vocals that had been condemned by some as lewd on “666,” the 1971 album by the rock group Aphrodite’s Youngster.

She had robust political emotions about her nation and made them public. In 1967, she risked her citizenship by calling for a “cultural boycott” of Greece after a army junta took management, saying “Nazism is again in Greece” and describing the nation’s new leaders as “not more than a band of blackmailers.” She by no means returned.

Though Ms. Papas spoke in interviews a few want to surrender appearing and a regrettable tendency to be too obedient to administrators, she continued movie appearing properly into her 70s. Her closing display screen appearances included “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin” (2001), during which she performed Drosoula, the formidable mom of Mandras (Christian Bale), and “Um Filme Falado” (“A Speaking Image”), Manoel de Oliveira’s 2003 meditation on civilization, during which she portrayed a privileged actress crusing the Mediterranean.

She married Alkis Papas, a director and actor, in 1947, they usually divorced 4 years later. A short 1957 marriage to José Kohn, a producer, was annulled. She by no means married once more.

She is survived by her nephews, stated Mr. Panagopoulos of the Greek Tradition Ministry.

Having performed all these characters from historic Greece, Ms. Papas had a worldview that took 1000’s of years of historical past and philosophy under consideration. “Plato made the primary mistake,” she advised Roger Ebert of The Chicago Solar-Instances in 1969, lamenting an pointless delay within the scientific revolution. “He started to speak concerning the soul and morality, and he prevented the Epicureans from looking out the character of man.”



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