On this day in 1932, beautiful Tzeni Karezi is born

Stunning Greek actress Tzeni Karezi was born on the 12th of January 1932.

Stunning Greek actress Tzeni Karezi was born on the 12th of January 1932.

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Also known as Jenny Karezi, she was one of the country’s most-loved actresses and considered one of the most popular and successful artists of all time in Greece, both in cinema and on stage.

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Tzeni (or Jenny) Karezi was born Evgenia Karpouzi, in Athens, to highly educated parents; her father was a mathematician and her mother was a high school teacher. She studied under the direction of nuns in a private French school in Thessaloniki, and as a result, she spoke French fluently. When she was a teenager, her father left the family, and she continued to live with her mother. She did not see her father until he died in a car accident in 1971.

In 1951 she was accepted at the Greek National Theater (Eθνικό Θέατρο), where she studied in the Drama School.

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Her stage debut was in the Marika Kotopouli theatre in the French comedy La belle Helénewith Melina Mercouri and Vasilis Diamantopoulos. In 1955, Karezi made her cinema debut in the comedy,Laterna, ftoheia kai filotimoin 1955, a massive success just like its sequel,Laterna, ftoheia kai garyfalloin 1957. For the soundtrack of the 1959 filmTo nisi ton genneonshe recorded a song by future Academy Award winner Manos Hadidakis,” “Min ton rotas ton ourano.”

Her career flourished in the 1960s when she headed her own theatre troupe in 1961 and starred in some of the most classic movies of the Greek Cinema includingLola(1964),Mia trelli … trelli oikogeneia(1965),Tzeni-Tzeni(1966), andKontserto gia polyvola (1967). Her greatest film success was Ta kokkina fanaria(The Red Lanterns1963), which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

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Her last film appearance was inLysistrata(1972). Over the following decade, she continued to produce and star in such stage classics asWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?,MedeaandElectra. She appeared for the last time in the theatre in 1990 in a play, Diamonds and the blues; suffering from terminal breast cancer, she was in great pain and had to leave the show.

In the early 1960s Karezi wed a journalist, Zahos Hadjifotiou, but this marriage ended in divorce two years later. In 1967, during the filming ofKontserto gia polyvola, she met Kostas Kazakos, with whom she had her only child, Konstantinos Kazakos. They formed a popular duo and Karezi’s repertoire shifted to more sophisticated and intellectual plays. They were led to prison where they spent several nights due to the playTo megalo mas tsirko(Our Big Circus) in 1973, which insulted the Greek dictatorship.

Tzeni Karezi died on 27 July 1992 from cancer at 60.

Thousands of family, friends and fans attended the public funeral.