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Irene Papas Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Family (2)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (26)  | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Born in Chilimodion, Corinth, Greece
Died in Chiliomodion, Corinthia, Greece  (Alzheimer's Disease)
Birth NameEiríni Lelékou
Height 5' 10" (1.78 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Irene Papas was born on September 3, 1929 in Chilimodion, Corinth, Greece. She was an actress and director, known for The Guns of Navarone (1961), The Message (1976) and Electra (1962). She was previously married to José Kohn and Alkis Papas. She died on September 14, 2022 in Chiliomodion, Corinthia, Greece.

Family (2)

Spouse José Kohn (1957 - ?)  (annulled)
Alkis Papas (1947 - 1951)  (divorced)
Parents Stavros
Eleni

Trade Mark (2)

Long black hair
Dark, expressive eyes

Trivia (26)

Festival tribute at the Créteil International Women's Film Festival, France. [2000]
She was named "Europe's woman", a title given to women who offer a lot to European civilization. In her speech, she sang a Greek folklore song. [2002]
She has no intention of returning to Greece to play in theatre, because she has suffered from continuous negative criticisms. She starred as the Greek heroine of 1821 (when Greece fought the Turks) in the film Bouboulina (1959). She was a personal friend of the Greek prime minister Andreas Papandreou.
Like the other Greek actress of international fame, Melina Mercouri, she has recorded some records (now available as CDs), which have gained the status of classics in Greece and are very popular around the Greek Orthodox Easter. The names of the records are 'Odes' and 'Rapsodies', containing 15 traditional songs and hymns of the Greek Orthodox church. The songs and hymns have been re-arranged by the Oscar-winning composer Vangelis. She has also recorded songs of Mikis Theodorakis, but this particular record has been out of stock for many decades, although it had been said that it would be published in 2004 again.
She was discovered by Elia Kazan.
Federico Fellini was a huge admirer of her work.
She was a dear friend of Katharine Hepburn, with whom she starred in The Trojan Women (1971). Hepburn once said that she is "one of the best actresses in the history of cinema".
Provided the (somewhat breathless) vocals on track 5 disc 2 (named only with a infinity symbol) of the Aphrodite's Child 1971 concept album "666", music for which was composed by Vangelis Papathanassiou. The keyboards on the album were played by Vangelis and the bass and some of the vocals were played and sung by Demis Roussos.
Owned houses in Greece, Spain and Italy.
Member of the Anna-Marie Foundation's board of directors along with members of the Greek royal family.
Confirmed in an interview that she had an affair with Marlon Brando, a close friend until his death.
Irene Papas appeared with Anthony Quinn in 7 films starting as far back as 1954. The films are Attila (1954), The Guns of Navarone (1961), Zorba the Greek (1964), A Dream of Kings (1969), the Mexican-produced, filmed-in-Rome short film El asesinato de Julio César (1972), The Message (1976), and The Lion of the Desert (1980).
Starred in two different versions of "The Odyssey": Odissea (1968) as Penelope, and The Odyssey (1997) as Anticleia.
Fluent in Greek, English, French and Italian.
In 2018 it was announced she had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease for the past five years.
Member of the Communist Party of Greece.
In 1991, she was scheduled to appear in David Lean's adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Nostromo. Lean's death in April 1991 brought the project to an end.
Franco Zeffirelli planned to cast Irene Papas in Jesus of Nazareth (1977) as the Virgin Mary with an unknown Tunisian girl to be chosen to enact the character's younger years, Papas being close to 50 at the time: however Zeffirelli decided to have twenty-five-year-old Olivia Hussey play Mary throughout the series. Had Zeffirelli cast Papas she would have had back-to-back roles as female lead in screen bios of two of the world's most revered religious leaders, having just played Hind bint Utba in The Message (1976), a biopic of Mohammed. She did later play the Blessed Virgin in Un bambino di nome Gesù (1990).
She appeared in four films that were nominated for the Best Picture Oscar The Guns of Navarone (1961), Zorba the Greek (1964), Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) and Z (1969).
In 1973, she was honoured with a photo shoot by the Magnum photographer Ferdinando Scianna.
Her mother, Eleni Prevezanou, was a schoolteacher, and her father, Stavros Lelekos, taught classical drama at the Sofikós school in Corinth.
She denied having any secret to acting with such energy, but said that one's attitude to death was what drove action. Death was in her view "the greatest catalyst in human life"; while waiting to die, one had to decide what to do with one's life.
Her career awards include the Golden Arrow Award in 1993 at Hamptons International Film Festival, and the Golden Lion Award in 2009 at the Venice Biennale.
Shoe size 41 EUR (9 US).

Personal Quotes (2)

I never won an Oscar...and the Oscars never won Irene Papas.
I never wanted to play sensational parts, or those of desirable women. I wanted to play me... the independent fighter.

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