Irene Papas

Active - 1953 - 2003  |   Born - Sep 3, 1929   |   Genres - Drama

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Enrolled in dramatic school age 12, Greek actress Irene Papas spent her first professional years as a singer-dancer in stage reviews and as a radio vocalist. Trained in Athens in the classics of Greece's Golden Age, Irene has played all the major tragic roles, including Medea and Electra; in addition, she was active in the contemporary productions put on by the Greek Popular Theatre in the late 1950s. In films from 1950, Irene is best known to international audiences for her portrayals of gutsy resistance fighter Maria Pappadimos in Guns of Navarone (1961); The Widow in Zorba the Greek (1964); the wife of political martyr Yves Montand in Z (1968); and Catherine of Aragon (with nary a trace of her native accent) in Anne of a Thousand Days. In between these projects, Ms. Papas made her Broadway debut in 1967's That Summer, That Fall. She has also delivered award-winning performances in the ambitious Euripides adaptations directed by Michael Cacoyannis, playing Helen in The Trojan Women (1972) and Clytemnestra in Iphigenia. On American television, Irene Papas has excelled in Biblical assignments: she was Zipporah in the 1976 miniseries Moses the Lawgiver, and Rebekah in the 1994 made-for-cable epic Jacob.

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