Irene Papas

Dafato Team | May 17, 2023

Table of Content


Irini Papa (born Irini Lelekou, Chiliomodi, Corinthia, 3 September 1929 - 14 September 2022) was a Greek actress with an international career. In 1995 she was awarded, among many other distinctions, the Order of the Order of the Phoenix, the Order of the Brigadier General of the Order of the Phoenix.

She was born on 3 September 1929 in Chiliomodi, Corinthia, as Irini Lelekou, a member of a family of teachers, such as her grandfather, her parents and her aunt, who influenced her education. Her mother, Eleni Lelekou, née Prevezanou, was a teacher, from whom she had heard many fairy tales and stories. Her father Stavros Lelekos was a teacher of classical drama, was the headmaster of the school in Sofiko, Corinthia, and taught her to read ancient Greeks. Her parents had four girls. Her sisters are the doctor Evangelia Lelekou-Manthopoulou and the literary artist and poet Despina Lelekou-Tataki. Her great-grandfather, Stavros Lelekos, wrote books for secondary education. Her nephew is the director and screenwriter Manousos Manousakis, son of Despina's sister. Also her nephew is the actor Aiadas Manthopoulos, son of her sister Evangelia.

She had no children of her own.

In 1947 she married the director and actor Alkis Papas (1922-2018), with whom she divorced in 1951, but kept his surname. According to other reports, their marriage lasted from 1943 to 1947.

She had revealed in 2004 to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, after Marlon Brando's death, that they had met in 1954 in Rome and had a long-lasting relationship. She said she held him in high esteem, he was the "great passion of her life" and they last met in 1999 in Athens.

She started at the age of 15 as a radio producer, singer and dancer at various events. She attended acting classes at the Drama School of the National Theatre, then called the National School of Classical Theatre, with teachers such as Giorgos Glinos, Nikolaos Paraskevas, Loukas Karintinos, Pello Katseli, Dimitris Rodiris, etc..

Cinema and theatre

He first appeared in the theatre in 1948, in the Sakellariou-Giannakopoulos revue People... People, at the Lyric Stage. In his autobiography, Alekos Sakellarios writes that he first saw her at Syntagma. Because of her appearance, her dress and her walking she seemed to him like a "living Caryatid". He introduced her to Finos and played her in her first film in 1948, which was Nikos Tsiforos' Lost Angels.

In 1951 she became internationally known with the social drama film Dead State of Finos Film, in Mistra, which was screened, representing Greece, at the Cannes Film Festival, by director Frixos Eliades and co-starring George Fountas (who appears for the first time in cinema) and is set in Mistra. Three of the films in which Irini Papa starred were nominated for an Oscar for Foreign Language Film, with Costas Gavras' French-language Z winning the award, while two Greek films, adaptations of ancient tragedies, Electra and Iphigenia, were also nominated.

Irini Papa participated in many Hollywood productions, while she also starred in the Broadway theatre in 1967.

In 1979 at the Herodeion, when Antony and Cleopatra was to be performed, she found herself in a dispute with Dimitris Horn, who had made disparaging remarks against her.


According to critic Roger Ebert, she had three "disadvantages", her height, which made many actors not want to stand next to her, her beauty that was competitive for other actresses and her "heavy" Peloponnesian accent. The Portuguese director, Manoel de Oliveira, had said that she was "the beautiful and majestic figure who embodies the female soul in its deepest expression and the image of Greece of all time".


In Greece it has not been recognized as much as internationally. He was awarded the Order of the Order of the Phoenix by the President of the Hellenic Republic Costis Stephanopoulos in 1995.

In 2008, Italy honoured her with the "Rome Prize" at the ancient theatre of Ostia Antica. Then when she received the award she had said: "I don't know whether to laugh or cry, I can only say that Athens will always be my mother, but Rome, at the same time, is my second mother, by clear choice". In Italy she worked with many Italian directors and the Italians loved her, calling her Bella Greca and Irene Nostra (i.e. "our Irene"). She fled to Italy during the years of the junta, as she was a supporter of communism.

Portugal has shown its appreciation by supporting the theatre it established there to perform ancient tragedies. It was for this theatre that Irene Papa resided in Portugal during her last active years.

In 2000 she was awarded the title "Woman of Europe" and in 2009 she was awarded the Golden Lion of the Venice Biennale Theatre by the hands of director Maurizio Scaparo.

In recent years he was also awarded an honorary doctorate at the Tor Vergata University of Rome in Italy. In total he received more than 24 honours and awards.

He was also involved in politics after the post-war period. He was a member of the KKE, but he admired the personality of Andreas Papandreou. She had become friends with Dimitra Lianis, when in the last government of Andreas Papandreou Lianis was attacked by the media, Irini Papa defended her.

For example:

More information about each performance is displayed by activating the link in the name of each performance


  1. Irene Papas
  2. Ειρήνη Παπά
  3. «Greece's Irene Papas, Who Earned Hollywood Fame, Dies At 93». (Αγγλικά) 14  Σεπτεμβρίου 2022. Ανακτήθηκε στις 17  Σεπτεμβρίου 2022.
  4. Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Γερμανίας, Κρατική Βιβλιοθήκη του Βερολίνου, Βαυαρική Κρατική Βιβλιοθήκη, Εθνική Βιβλιοθήκη της Αυστρίας: (Γερμανικά, Αγγλικά) Gemeinsame Normdatei. 123916593. Ανακτήθηκε στις 30  Οκτωβρίου 2022.
  5. «Identifiants et Référentiels» (Γαλλικά) Agence bibliographique de l'enseignement supérieur. 06380364X. Ανακτήθηκε στις 31  Οκτωβρίου 2022.
  6. Newsroom (14 Σεπτεμβρίου 2022). «Πέθανε η Ειρήνη Παπά - Η σπουδαία διεθνής Ελληνίδα ηθοποιός». Ανακτήθηκε στις 11 Δεκεμβρίου 2022.
  7. «Muere la actriz griega Irene Papas a los 93 años». ELMUNDO. 14 de septiembre de 2022. Consultado el 14 de septiembre de 2022.
  8. Presse, France (14 de septiembre de 2022). «Muere la actriz Irene Papas a los 93 años». elperiodico. Consultado el 14 de septiembre de 2022.
  9. Greece's Irene Papas, Who Earned Hollywood Fame, Dies At 93 Bloomberg. 14.9.2022. Viitattu 14.9.2022. (englanniksi)
  10. ^ a b (EL) Alexandra Tsolka, Ειρήνη Παππά: Η γυναίκα – Ελλάδα (Irini Pappas: La donna - Grecia), su, 15 febbraio 2018. URL consultato il 18 giugno 2020 (archiviato il 4 giugno 2018).«Είναι 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 1926. (è il 3 settembre 1926)»
  11. ^ a b (EL) Ειρήνη Παππά – Αυτή είναι η τελευταία Ελληνίδα θεά! (Irini Pappas - This is the last Greek goddess!), su, 3 settembre 2018. URL consultato il 18 giugno 2020.«"γεννήθηκε στο Χιλιομόδι Κορινθίας στις 3 Σεπτεμβρίου 1926" ("nata a Chiliomodi, nella Corinzia, il 3 settembre 1926")»
  12. ^ Πέθανε η σπουδαία ηθοποιός Ειρήνη Παπά, su, 14 settembre 2022. URL consultato il 14 settembre 2022.

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