Katina Paxinou

Katina Paxinou was born in 1900, in Piraeus, Greece. She first appeared on stage in 1928, in an Athens production of Henry Bataille’s “La femme nue”. In the early 1930’s she was one of the founding members of the National Theatre of Greece (previously named Royal Theatre) and performed several major roles in Sophocles’ “Electra”, Henrik Ibsen’s “Ghosts” etc, often co-starring with her husband, Alexis Minotis. The outbreak of the Second World War found her in UK; she later managed to arrive at the US, where she was offered her first film role in 1943 in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). For her superb portrayal of the Spanish revolutionary Pilar in this classic film adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel, she won a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award and a Golden Globe in 1944. She made a few more Hollywood movies, before returning to Greece in the early 1950’s. During 1950 – 1971, some of her great performances were as Jocasta in Sophocles’s “Oedipus Rex” (1951, 1952, 1955 and 1958, also staged at that time on Broadway with enormous success), as Countess Rosmarin Ostenburg in Christopher Fry’s “The Dark Is Light Enough” (1957), as Clara Zachanassian in Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s “The Visit” (1961), as Mary Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (1965) and in the title roles of Euripides’s “Hecuba” (1955) and Bertolt Brecht’s “Mother Courage” (1971). She also starred in some other movies; she was particularly touching as the Italian matriarch in the Luchino Visconti masterpiece Rocco and His Brothers (1960). She died of cancer in 1973 and is justly considered as the greatest Greek actress of the 20th century.

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