Katina Paxinou

Katina Paxinou (17 December 1900 – 22 February 1973) was an Academy Award-winning Greek film and theatre actress.

Born Ekaterini Konstantopoulou , in Piraeus, Greece, she trained as an opera singer but changed career and joined the Greek Royal Theater in 1929. Paxinou distinguished herself on the stage. When World War II broke out, she was performing in London. Unable to return to Greece, she emigrated to the United States.

She was selected to play “Pilar” in the 1943 film For Whom the Bell Tolls, winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress. She continued appearing in Hollywood films until 1949. She made one British film as well, the 1947 film version of Uncle Silas, starring Jean Simmons. After 1949, Paxinou returned to Hollywood only once more, to play, again, a gypsy woman, this time in the 1959 Technicolor religious epic, The Miracle.

In 1950, Paxinou resumed her stage career. In her native Greece, she formed the Royal Theatre of Athens with Alexis Minotis, her principal director and her husband since 1940.

Paxinou made several appearances on the Broadway stage as well, including the lead role in the first production in English of Federico Garcia Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba, in 1951. Her accent and the tone qualities of her voice were shockingly identical to that of another European actress, Anna Magnani, who came here from Italy. She continued to accept occasional film roles until her death from cancer in Athens, Greece in 1973 at the age of 72. She was survived by her husband, and her two children from her first marriage.

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