Legendary Greek actress Irene Papas dies aged 93


ATHENS, Greece (TBEN) — Irene Papas, the Greek actress and recording artist known for her dramatic performances and austere beauty that earned her prominent roles in Hollywood films and in French and Italian cinema for six decades, has died. She was 93.

The Greek Ministry of Culture confirmed her death on Wednesday.

Papas became internationally known after appearing in “The Guns of Navarone” in 1961 and “Zorba the Greek” in 1964, along with Hollywood stars Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn. In total, she starred in more than 50 films.

Born Irene Lelekou in the mountain village of Chiliomodi, Papas was the daughter of two teachers. Her father also taught drama.

She left home at the age of 18 to marry Greek film director Alkis Papas, despite her family’s disapproval. They divorced four years later. After the death of American actor Marlon Brando in 2004, Papas revealed in an Italian newspaper interview that the two had been in a romantic relationship.

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Papas, a supporter of the Greek Communist Party, was an outspoken opponent of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1967 to 1974 and lived much outside of Greece, including Rome and New York.

Greek art institutions thanked Papas for supporting younger actors. The Athens-based Greek Film Center described her as “The greatest Greek international movie star”, adding: “Her image is a timeless imprint of Greek feminine beauty.”

Papas publicly joked that she was often quoted as being three years older than her actual age. She started an interview with Greek state television in 2004 by saying, “I was born on September 3, 1929. All the newspapers are there in Chiliomodi”, which is near the southern Greek city of Corinth.


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