Katina Paxinou

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Katina Paxinou
Native name Κατίνα Παξινού
Born Aikaterini Konstantopoulou
(1900-12-17)17 December 1900
Piraeus, Greece
Died 22 February 1973(1973-02-22) (aged 72)
Athens, Greece
Cause of death Cancer
Resting place First Cemetery of Athens
Nationality Greek
Occupation Actress
Years active 1928–1970
Spouse(s) Ioannis Paxinos (m. 1917; div. 1923); 2 children
Alexis Minotis (m. 1940; d. 1973)

Katina Paxinou (Greek: Κατίνα Παξινού; 17 December 1900 – 22 February 1973) was a Greek film and stage actress.

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 European films. She died in 1973, after a long-term battle with cancer.

Early life

Paxinou was born Aikaterini Konstantopoulou (Αικατερίνη Κωνσταντοπούλου) in Piraeus, Greece, she trained as an opera singer at the Conservatoire de Musique de Genève and later in Berlin and Vienna. According to her biography in Playbill (1942), Paxinou was disowned by her family after she decided to seek a permanent stage career.


Katina Paxinou in the For Whom the Bell Tolls trailer.

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.

Katina Paxinou (left) in Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children, Pantheon Theatre, Athens, 1971/72 (PFF's Archive).

When World War II broke out, Paxinou was performing in London. Unable to return to Greece, she emigrated to the United States, where she had earlier appeared in 1931, performing Clytemnestra in a modern Greek version of Electra.[disambiguation needed]

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, played the mother of Tyrone Power's character in Prince of Foxes (1949). After that film, Paxinou worked for a Hollywood studio only once more, to again play a gypsy woman, this time 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 her 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 June 28, 1942. 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 June 2, 1959.


Paxinou died from cancer in Athens in 1973 at the age of 72. 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 Katina Paxinou, an academy award winner Greek film and theatre actress. Items include her furniture, paintings and sketches, photographs, books and personal effects. The items were donated by director Alexis Minotis, Patinou's husband, 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 Mourning Becomes Electra Christine Mannon
1947 Uncle Silas Madame de la Rougierre
1949 Prince of Foxes Mona Constanza Zoppo
1955 Mr. Arkadin Sophie
1959 Miracle, TheThe Miracle La Roca
1960 Rocco e i suoi Fratelli Rosaria Parondi
1961 Morte di un Bandito Silvia
1962 Trial, TheThe Trial Originally played a scene which was later cut.
1968 Nisi tis Afroditis, ToTo Nisi tis Afroditis Lambrini
1968 Tante Zita Aunt Zita
1970 Été Sauvage, UnUn Été Sauvage Marya
1970 Martlet's Tale, TheThe Martlet's Tale Orsetta


External links