Zozo Sapountzaki: The Queen of the Night

Zozo

Zozo Sapountzaki was born in Salonica, Greece and studied drama and music at the Musical Theatre School. She first appeared on stage as a child, along with her sister Vaso, as the Sapountzaki baby sisters (ta Sapountzakia). She bloomed into what can only be called a brunette bombshell and appeared in musicals, comedies, vaudeville and burlesque not only in Greece but all around Europe, the Middle East and the U.S. At one point, in the late 1950s, she appeared in Las Vegas where the local press dubbed her toast of the town. Her film career included mostly comedies and musicals and some costume dramas. Her celebrated legs were always the focal point in most of her movies. At 89 years of age Zozo is still going strong even today, making appearances in talk shows and music halls in Athens.

If I would ask you to remember your childhood years in Thessaloniki, what would you recall as easy or difficult ones?

They were the most beautiful years of my life. My childhood was very nice.  We lived in the centre of Thessaloniki. Right across from my house, there was TITANIA cinema, where I used to go and watch the films with the famous actors of that period. At the door, there was a clerk who worked at the cinema and he would let me enter for free in order to watch the films. Afterward, I ran home and did what exactly I had seen in front of the mirror, impersonating the protagonist.

Who was the person who discovered you and saw in you this innate talent?

At the corner, across from my parental house, Giannis Dalianidis lived and he used to gather his friends to read them poetry. And we would go, my sister and I, he set two small chairs for us and we would sit and listen to Dalianidis recite. It was a very nice moment.  I owe him my debut. He would come home and say to my father "Socrates, the child has talent".  He took me and my sister to meet Paraskevas Economou, a great teacher and actor. After a while, my sister Vaso left and I was left alone. Dalianidis taught us dancing, he was telling my sister Vaso that she had very nice legs and I was angry and I was telling him about my legs if they were nice too.

Do you love theatre more than cinema and television?

I mostly loved theatre. I also loved cinema, however not with as much enthusiasm which is why I participated in very few films. Theatre for me was my number one choice, and gave emphasis to theatrical performances. Another big love was being on stage and performing my acts at the big music halls (bouzoukia).

Your impressive performance and outfits on the stage at the Greek music halls led people to give you the title of ‘The Queen of the Night’. What made you abandon the idea of performing at the big music halls in Greece and leave for the States?

The person who baptised me ‘The Queen of the Night’ was Maroudas.  And this title followed me and follows me until today. To tell you the truth, I like it as a title. But the reason I left for The States was purely out of stubbornness. I was with a famous gentleman and his ex-wife wasn't giving him a divorce, so I got upset and got up and left.

In the States, I had a great time. I enjoyed some great joy, I sang without knowing the language where people were looking at me quizzically. I would also jolt down some words and I would go on stage and sing them at night. I had a great career in the States and when I returned to Greece I was wondering if I had made the right choice. At that time, I remember Skouras contacted me to shoot a film in the States, but I told him I was leaving for Greece. When I returned to Greece, at first, I regretted it, but when I saw how much people loved me and I started to work then I let it go.

You have worked with many of the famous Greek actors, which of these collaborations do you reminisce about?

I have worked very much with Nikos Stavridis, he was a great actor and this was important as a collaboration. I have also worked with several others, who were great actors and I am very happy to have worked with them. With Kostas Voutsas, we were very much loved, I had shot films with him, but also as a person he was amazing. I have worked with Martha Karagianni and I was very devastated by her passing. She was an amazing actress but also a great human being. But she didn't pay attention to her health to the fullest.

Are you good at managing your finances or are you a big spender?

I'm not good at my finances, I might get the money and spend it within the first hour and then I don’t have money at all. I'm a big-time spender and not good at managing it. I have not regretted it, because I think for my work it is the best. I was giving my money to be well dressed so that I could do my acts on stage every time I worked at a new music hall.

Is there something with hindsight you miss from the past? Is there something that you wanted yet couldn't achieve?

I do not regret anything. If you ask me why I didn't have a child, well I haven't regretted it. When I was pregnant, I continued acting and dancing and my mother asked me why do you do this, it will have an impact on your pregnancy. And the child was lost. After that I never thought again about having a child, I was very upset but I forgot about it. I like traveling and I continued it with my partner and we still love travelling abroad. The love of the world gives me life. Every time I go out with friends, I see people who want to talk to and greet me. That's what I like. I don't bother anyone, I don't gossip about anyone, I mind my own business, I like to decorate my house, and I cook.

What title would you write to describe your life?

I don't know what title I would put to describe my life - I don't know what to say about myself.  Maybe the title 'Zozo is for everything’. Because Zozo was loved, Zozo loves, Zozo takes care of herself and Zozo continues to live, she continues to spend money. I find all of this fair enough.

What would you like to share with all the Greeks who love and admire you around the world?

Despite the hardships they went through in the end, they won and continue to do well wherever they are. Also, they must continue to support and remember their homeland.

Read also Mary Chronopoulou: Always A Star

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