Katina Paxinou

Katina Paxinou (Greek: Κατίνα Παξινού; 17 December 1899[1][2] or c.1900[3] 22 February 1973)[4] was a Greek film and stage actress.

Katina Paxinou
Native name
Κατίνα Παξινού
Born17 December c.1900
Piraeus, Greece
Died22 February 1973(1973-02-22) (aged 72)
Athens, Greece
Resting placeFirst Cemetery of Athens
Years active1928–1970
Ioannis Paxinos
(m. 1917; div. 1923)

Alexis Minotis (m. 1940)

She started her stage career in Greece in 1928 and was one of the founding members of the National Theatre of Greece in 1932. The outbreak of World War II found her in the United Kingdom and she later moved to the United States, where she made her film debut in For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress.

Paxinou appeared in a few more Hollywood films, before returning to Greece in the early 1950s. She then focused on her stage career and appeared in a number of European films. She died in 1973, after a long battle with cancer.

Early life

Paxinou was the daughter of Vassilis Konstantopoulos and Eleni Malandrinou.[5] She trained as an opera singer at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève and later in Berlin and Vienna. According to her biography in a 1942 Playbill, Paxinou's family disowned her after she decided to seek a permanent stage career.


Paxinou made her debut at the Municipal Theatre of Piraeus in 1920 in the operatic version of Maurice Maeterlinck's Sister Beatrice, with a score by Dimitri Mitropoulos. She first appeared in a play in 1928, as a member of Marika Kotopouli's troupe, in an Athens production of Henry Bataille's The Naked Woman. In 1931, she joined Aimilios Veakis' troupe along with Alexis Minotis, where she translated and appeared in the first of Eugene O'Neill's plays to be staged in Greece, Desire Under the Elms. She also appeared in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and August Strindberg's The Father.

In 1932, Paxinou was among the actors that inaugurated the recently re-founded National Theatre of Greece, where she worked until 1940. During her stay in the National Theatre, she distinguished herself on Greek stage starring in major plays, such as Sophocles' Electra, Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts and William Shakespeare's Hamlet, which were also performed in London, Frankfurt and Berlin.

When World War II began, Paxinou was performing in London. Unable to return to Greece, she emigrated in May 1941 to the United States, where she had earlier appeared in 1931, performing Clytemnestra in a modern Greek version of Electra.

She was selected to play the role of Pilar in the film For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943), for which she won an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress - Motion Picture. She made one British film, Uncle Silas (1947), which features Jean Simmons in the main female role and worked in Italy for 20th Century Fox, playing the mother of Tyrone Power's character in Prince of Foxes (1949). After this film, Paxinou worked for a Hollywood studio only once more, again playing a gypsy woman in the religious epic The Miracle (1959).

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 husband since 1940.

Paxinou made several appearances on the Broadway stage and television as well. She played the lead in Ibsen's Hedda Gabler for 12 performances at New York City's Longacre Theatre, opening on 28 June 1942.[6] She also played the principal role in the first production in English of Federico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba, at the ANTA Playhouse in New York in 1951, and a BBC television production of Lorca's Blood Wedding (Bodas de sangre), broadcast on 2 June 1959.


Paxinou died from cancer in Athens on 22 February 1973 at the age of 72.[7] She was survived by her husband and her one daughter from her first marriage to Ioannis Paxinos, whose surname she had been using after their divorce. Her remains are buried at First Cemetery of Athens.


The Paxinou-Minotis Museum is a museum in Athens, Greece featuring memorabilia of the life of Paxinou. Items include her furniture, paintings and sketches, photographs, books and personal effects donated by Paxinou's husband, director Alexis Minotis, and include his personal library and theatrical archive.


Year Title Role Notes
1943 For Whom the Bell Tolls Pilar
1943 Hostages Maria
1945 Confidential Agent Mrs. Melandez
1947 Uncle Silas Madame de la Rougierre
1947 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon
1949 Prince of Foxes Mona Constanza Zoppo
1955 Mr. Arkadin Sophie
1959 The Miracle La Roca
1960 Rocco e i suoi Fratelli Rosaria Parondi
1961 Morte di un Bandito Silvia
1961 i episkepsis tis giraias kirias
1962 The Trial Originally played a scene which was later cut.
1965 To Nisi tis Afroditis Lambrini
1968 Tante Zita Aunt Zita
1970 Un Été Sauvage Marya
1970 The Martlet's Tale Orsetta (final film role)


  1. Article Paxinou wrote about her birth town stating her birth year as 1899 (in Greek). "Pireorama blogpost".
  2. at 2:53 the years are given 1899-1973. "mini bio (in greek)".
  3. "Britannica article about Paxinou".
  4. "Biographies: Katina Paxinou 1900-1973". Cultural Institute for Academic Research and Studies. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  5. Chrysothemis Stamatopoulou-Vasilakou (ed.), 1917–1997: 80 Chronia S.E.H. [80 Years of the Greek Actors Union], Athens: Sbilias, 1999, p. 28.
  6. "Hedda Gabler". Playbill. January 29, 1942. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  7. "KATINA PAXINOU, WON OSCAR IN '43". The New York Times. February 23, 1973. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-10-17.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.