Born on 3 September 1929 in Chiliomodi, near Corinth, Greece, with the name of Irini Lelekou, raised in a family of intellectuals, she became an actress since childhood, then a singer (interpreter in particular of the symphonies of Vangelis and Mikis Theodorakis) and a busy woman, Irène Papas died in Chiliomodi on Wednesday, September 14 at the age of 93, from the consequences of the Alzheimer’s disease she had been suffering from since 2013. During her long career, which elevated her to the rank of Actress Greek of her generation, she has acted in various theatrical stages in Greece, Italy and the United States, has made some records and has appeared in more than seventy films. Among the best known: The Cannons of Navarone (1961), by J. Lee Thompson; Electra (1962) And Zorba the Greek (1964), by Michael Cacoyannis; Z (1969), by Costa-Gavras.
Irène Papas also remains one of the most beautiful and fascinating faces in cinema. At their first meeting, some directors were out of breath. Writer and director Alekos Sakellarios was one of those who saw her in “living caryatid”. Thanks to him he made his first film, lost angelsby Nikos Tsiforos, in 1948. Actress, she never asked herself the question, she always has been.
Little Irene gets on the board at 12, hinting that she has four more
Raised by a teacher mother and a classical theater teacher father who teaches her ancient Greek, little Irene takes the stage at 12, suggesting that she has four others. The latter passed when she expressed to her parents a desire to become an actress. They oppose each other; she opposes them and she enrolls in the drama school in Athens, where she learns theater, song and dance. She married at 17 and became Irène Papas.
In the 1950s he made himself known for the first time in his country. Therefore ghost city (1951), by Frixos Iliadis, granted him a little notoriety in Italy, enough for the filmmakers to want to entrust him with roles. She turns around The infidels (1953), by Mario Monicelli and Steno, Theodora, empress of Byzantium (1954), by Riccardo Freda, and, the same year, in Attila, scourge of God, from Pietro Francesco. The United States then welcomed him for filming in particular of The law of the prairie (1956), western by Robert Wise.
But it is to his hometown and to the Greek director Michael Cacoyannis (1922-2011) that he owes his first consecration, thanks to his role as a martyr widow in Zorba the Greek (1964). The film also marks the beginning of a long collaboration that will bring Irène Papas to the top of the great interpreters of the old tragic repertoire. Sublime Electre in the film of the same name (1962), and equally unforgettable Hélène in The Trojans (1971) or also Clytemnestra in Iphigenia (1977), the actress embodies the figure of a modern, hieratic and unassuming tragic actress.
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