Irene Papas, ‘Zorba The Greek’ and ‘Z’ Star, Dies at 93

Irene Papas, the Greek actress known for such films as “Zorba the Greek,” “Z” and “The Guns of Navarone,” has died. She was 93.

Greece’s Ministry of Culture and Sports confirmed the news Wednesday in a statement.

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Papas starred in over 70 films and stage productions throughout her career spanning nearly six decades, from Hollywood features to French and Italian cinema. She also appeared in dozens of Greek tragedies, including the title role in the 1961 film adaptation of “Antigone.”

Born on Sept. 3, 1929, in the village of Chiliomodi near Corinth, Papas began her acting studies as a teenager and later worked on multiple film and TV projects in the ’40s and ’50s, including “The Man from Cairo,” “The Unfaithfuls,” “Bouboulina” and “Attila,” among others.

In 1961, she played a supporting role in “The Guns of Navarone” starring Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn. Papas then starred opposite Quinn and Alan Bates in Michael Cacoyannis’ 1964 dramedy “Zorba the Greek,” which scored three Oscars.

Other notable film credits include “Anne of a Thousand Days,” “Vortice,” “Tribute to a Bad Man,” “The Missing Scientists,” “Brotherhood,” “The Message,” “Electra,” and “Z,” the 1969 Oscar-winning political thriller in which Papas played the widow of a murdered politician (Yves Montand).

One of her last major roles came in 2001 in John Madden’s romantic drama “Captain Corelli’s Mandolin,” starring Nicolas Cage, Penelope Cruz and John Hurt.

No cause of death was given. However, an announcement in 2018 stated that Papas had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for five years.

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