Nikos Kourkoulos

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Nikos Kourkoulos
Nikos Kourkoulos served as the Artistic Director of the National Theatre of Greece
Nikos Kourkoulos

Nikos Kourkoulos was born in 1934, in Athens, Greece. He grew up in the district of Zografou. Sports and football being his love, he belonged to Panathinaikos' roster during his school years. Acting came before him rather accidentally. As he himself had claimed, he took the plunge to become an actor while reading books on theatre.

He studied acting at the Drama School of the Greek National Theater and made his stage debut in a 1958 Athens production of Alexandre Dumas' "La dame aux camélias", opposite Ellie Lambeti and Dimitris Horn. He was one of the founders of the prestigious stage group Proskinio and appeared in the 1967 Broadway musical "Ilya Darling", with Melina Mercouri, in a role for which he was nominated for a Tony award as a best supporting actor.

For the best part of the 60s and 70s, Nikos Kourkoulos' success was unparalleled by any other Greek actor, bar perhaps Dimitris Papamichael. And while Kourkoulos' takings at the box office matched that of the Golden Couple (Aliki & Papamichael) ticket by ticket, his choice of material was more challenging than the latter's often naive excursion into sentimentality, making him the darling of cinemagoers and critics alike. His good looks certainly didn't hurt either and for years Kourkoulos was the pin up boy of choice of many a young girl.

He created his personal group in the early 1970s, with a repertory which included, among others, Kafka's "The Trial", Arthur Miller's "View from the Bridge" and Brecht's "The Beggar's Opera". His last stage appearence to date was in the title role of Sophocles' "Philoktitis" (1991); he then became artistic director of the Greek National Theater.

His film career has been equally successful: he starred in many films from the late 1950s until the early 1980s. His most commercial films have been melodramas with a social background, like Visibility Zero (Oratotis miden / Ορατότης Μηδέν - 1970).

He was awarded twice at the Thessaloniki Film Festival with the Best Actor Prize for his performance in Adistaktous (Αδίστακτους 1965) and Astrapogiannos (Αστραπόγιαννος 1970).

For 5 years, (1975-1980) he was President of the Society of Greek Theatre Actor-Managers.

Kourkoulos' last stage appearance was in a 1991 production of Sophocles' Philoctetes play, at the restored ancient theater of Epidaurus in southern Greece.

In 1995, Nikos Kourkoulos became the Artistic Director of the government funded National Theatre of Greece, an institution he managed to turn into a profitable organization without compromising on artistic integrity.

He died at the Errikos Dynan Hospital, in Athens, on January 30, 2007, succumbing to the cancer he was battling since 2001. He was survived by his wife, Marianna Latsis (daughter of Greek shipping billionaire John Latsis), and four children: Errieta and Philip from marriage to Marianna, and Melita and Alkis from his previous marriage to Melita.

Theatrical Performances

Nikos KOurkoulos headed companies and his own theatre in Athens and Thessaloniki, and played leading roles in:

  • Medea (1959) by Euripides
  • Thornton Wilder, Our Town, 1960
  • Jean Giraudoux, Ondine, 1962
  • R & A Goetz, The Heiress, 1962
  • Samuel Taylor, Sabrina Fair, 1963
  • Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, 1964
  • Luigi Pirandello, To Clothe the Naked, 1964
  • Frank Wedekind, Lulu, 1965
  • Never on a Sunday (Ilya, Darling), 1967, in the United States (directed by Jules Dassin, with Melina Mercouri, in a production nominated for a Tony award)
  • Franz Kafka, The Castle, 1964, and The Trial, 1971
  • Orestes (1971) by Euripides
  • Slavomir Mrozek, Tango, 1972
  • Bertholt Brecht, The Threepenny Opera, 1975 (as Macheath, with Melina Mercouri as Jenny), directed by Jules Dassin
  • Anton Chekhov, Ο The Seagull, 1976
  • Harold Pinter, The Homecoming, 1977
  • Jean Anouilh, Ring Round the Moon, 1978
  • Neil Simon, The Odd Couple, 1980, directed by Andreas Voutsinas
  • Oedipus the King (1982) by Sophocles
  • Ugo Betti, Reciprocation, 1983, directed by Minos Volanakis
  • Arthur Miller, A View from the Bridge, 1986
  • Dale Wasserman, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, 1987
  • Philoctetes (1991) by Sophocles

Filmography

  • To Telefteo psemma 1957
  • Barbayannis, o kanatas 1957
  • Erotikes istories 1959
  • Bouboulina 1959
  • Amaryllis, to koritsi tis agapis 1959
  • I Kyria dimarhos 1960
  • Kalimera Athina 1960
  • To Hamini 1960
  • Dyo hiliades naftes kai ena koritsi 1960
  • Mana mou, ton agapisa 1961
  • O Katiforos 1961
  • Gia sena tin agapi mou 1961
  • To Taxidi 1962
  • Orgi 1962
  • Dipsa gia zoi 1963
  • Lola tis Troubas 1964
  • To Homa vaftike kokkino 1964
  • Enas megalos erotas 1964
  • Amfivolies 1964
  • Games of Desire 1964
  • Casablan 1964
  • Katigoro tous anthropous 1965
  • Epitafios gia hehthrous kaí filous 1965
  • Adistaktoi 1965
  • Koinonia, ora miden 1966
  • Kataskopoi sto Saroniko 1968
  • Gymnoi sto dromo 1968
  • Roma come Chicago 1968
  • Oratotis miden 1970
  • Koinonia, ora miden 1970
  • O Astrapoyannos 1970
  • Katahrisi exousias 1971
  • Me fovo kai me pathos 1972
  • O Ehthros tou laou 1972
  • Thema syneidiseos 1973
  • I Diki ton dikaston 1974
  • Ena gelasto apogevma 1979
  • Exodos kindinou 1980
  • To Fragma 1982