George Chakiris, born on September 16, 1934 in Norwood, Ohio, is an American actor and dancer. In this article, stay tuned as we want to take a look at George Chakiris Biography.
He rose to fame in the early 1960s with the film version of the Broadway musical West Side Story, in which he won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award for his supporting role as Bernardo. In this article, stay tuned as we want to take a look at George Chakiris Biography.
George Chakiris was born in 1934 in the Midwest of the USA as the son of the Greek immigrant Steven Chakiris and his wife Zoey and grew up with two brothers and four sisters. He made his feature film debut as a twelve-year-old in Clarence Brown’s literary adaptation Clara Schumann’s Great Love (1947), in which he landed a small part as a chorister.
After graduating from high school, Chakiris was employed as a clerk in a Los Angeles department store during the day while taking dance, singing and acting lessons in the evenings. He was among the students of Eugene Loring’s Hollywood American School of Dance, where Mary Tyler Moore, among others, also trained. George Chakiris was one of the first to achieve success in the early 1950s.
His first success came in the early 1950s, when he received several roles as a dancer in films such as Blondes Preferred (1953), White Christmas, Rhythm in the Blood, Brigadoon (both 1954) and Viva Las Vegas (1955), in which he accompanied such famous stars as Marilyn Monroe in the revue number “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” and Rosemary Clooney. He received the first small acting role in 1957 in James B. Clark’s war drama Under Fire.
Peak Days of George Chakiris
Chakiris then interrupted his film career to take on the role of Riff in the London musical production of West Side Story, a transposition of Shakespeare’s tragedy Romeo and Juliet in 1950s New York. The production was a success with critics and audiences when it premiered on Broadway in New York (1957), and in Robbins’ and Robert Wise’s 1961 film adaptation of the same name, Chakiris played the role of Bernardo alongside Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer. This marked the peak of the actor, singer and dancer’s career and earned him an Oscar and Golden Globe in 1962.
Like his Oscar-winning film partner Rita Moreno, George Chakiris was subsequently unable to match the success of West Side Story, although he later worked in Europe with such renowned directors as Luigi Comencini (Two Days and Two Nights, 1963), René Clément (Is Paris Burning? 1966) or Jacques Demy (The Girls of Rochefort, 1967) and included stars such as Claudia Cardinale or Catherine Deneuve among his screen partners. He turned down most feature film offers from the U.S., as the success of West Side Story meant he would mostly take on Latino characters or choreographer roles.
In 1966, he portrayed art thief Vincenzo Peruggia, who stole the Mona Lisa from the Louvre in Paris in 1911, in the film The Thief of the Mona Lisa. In addition to his film career, he performed with success in nightclubs, such as Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Soon after his appearance in Tito Davison’s thriller Dosage Murder (1969) with Lana Turner, film offers began to decline, and he focused more on television roles beginning in the 1970s. He completed numerous guest appearances in popular series and miniseries, including that of Frédéric Chopin in the award-winning British production Notorious Woman (1974) alongside Rosemary Harris, as well as Fantasy Island (1982), Love, Lies, Passion (1984) and Murder is Her Hobby.
He appeared in the series Dallas in 1985 and 1986 in the recurring supporting role of Nicholas. His last television appearance for the time being was in 1996 in the episode Extra! Extra! of the successful British comedy sitcom Last of the Summer Wine, and his last theatrical appearance a year later.
George Chakiris, who has never married or had children throughout his life, lives in Los Angeles and now devotes himself to silver jewelry making.