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Death of actress Irene Papas, star of “Zorba the Greek”

Greek actress Irene Papas, famous for her fiery performances in internationally acclaimed films such as The Guns of Navarone and Zorba the Greek, has died at the age of 93, the culture ministry said on Wednesday.

Irene Papas “embodied the Greek beauty on screen and on stage,” Culture Minister Lina Mendoni said in a statement.

According to Greek state news agency ANA, Irène Papas died earlier in the day on Wednesday.

The cause of death was not immediately known. Irène Papas’ health had been poor for some time.

She was one of the most famous Greek actresses abroad alongside Mélina Mercouri, starring in around sixty films during her six-decade career.

She shared the bill with acclaimed comedians like Richard Burton, Kirk Douglas, James Cagney and Jon Voigt.

“Ordinary actors find it difficult to share the screen with her,” wrote film critic Roger Ebert in 1969.

Irène Papas, whose real name was Irène Lelekou, was born into a family of teachers in 1929 in the village of Chiliomodi near Corinth.

Endowed with a deep voice, a piercing gaze and a face whose classical beauty was reminiscent of the caryatids of ancient Greece, she performed at local cultural events from the age of 15 before studying art theater in Athens.

She made her film debut in the 1948 Greek drama Fallen Angels, then burst onto the international scene with Dead City, the first Greek film to screen at the Cannes Film Festival in 1952.

1961’s The Guns of Navarone, in which she starred as a dark-eyed Greek guerrilla alongside Gregory Peck and Anthony Quinn, was a career highlight.

She reunited with Quinn in 1964’s Zorba the Greek, another all-time classic.

“I left Greece to find out where the best actors are. i wanted to learn I wasn’t looking for a career,” she told public broadcaster ERT in 2002. “If you do your job well, a career will come naturally.”

In 1969 she played the widow of a murdered MP in Costa-Gavras’ Oscar-winning film “Z”.

She has received numerous awards, including Best Actress at the Berlin Film Festival in 1961 and a Golden Lion in Venice in 2009 for her entire career.

She was popular in Italy, where she appeared regularly in films and TV series, including her last role in 2004.

This article was published automatically. Sources: ats/afp

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