She was best known for commanding movie roles in the 1960s but received the greatest plaudits for playing heroines of the ancient stage.
Irene Papas was best known by American moviegoers for her intensely serious and sultry-strong roles in films like “The Guns of Navarone,” “Z” and “Zorba the Greek.” Credit...Associated Press
By Anita Gates
Irene Papas, a Greek actress who starred in films like “Z,” “Zorba the Greek” and “The Guns of Navarone” but won the greatest acclaim of her career playing the heroines of Greek tragedy, died on Wednesday. She was 96.
The death was confirmed by a spokesman for the Greek Culture Ministry in an email. He did not know the cause of death, but in 2018, it was announced that Ms. Papas had been living with Alzheimer’s disease for five years.
Ms. Papas was best known by American moviegoers for her intensely serious and sultry-strong roles in the 1960s. In “The Guns of Navarone” (1961), filmed partly on the island of Rhodes, she played a World War II resistance fighter who dared to do what a team of Allied saboteurs (among them Gregory Peck, David Niven and Anthony Quinn) would not: shoot an unarmed woman because she was a traitor.
In “Zorba the Greek” (1964), with Mr. Quinn, she was a Greek widow who is stoned by her fellow villagers because of her choice of lover. In Costa-Gavras’s Oscar-winning political thriller “Z” (1969), set in the Greek city of Thessaloniki, she played Yves Montand’s widow, who evoked the film’s meaning with one final grief-ridden look out to sea.