Posted on: 03/May/2011
Thanassis Veggos, one of the most prolific and popular comedians of the "golden era" of Greek film, died on Tuesday.
Veggos was born in 1927 in New Phaliron. Unlike most movie stars of the era that transitioned over from the theatre, he did not study acting at all. In fact, his film debut was accidental.
During the upsetting years of the civil war as the only son of a communist family, he was forced to do his military service on Makronisos, a place of exile for thousands of soldiers and citizens with leftist tendencies.
After he was released, he worked in a variety of non-permanent posts in order to make ends meet until, in 1953, director Nikos Koundouros, who knew him from Makronisos, offered him a role in his film Magic city.
Without any previous acting experience or studies, he was also working as a gofer on the first films he was acting in.
Despite the difficulties, his early career was marked by his participation in some of the most important films in Greek cinema (The Dragon, Never on Sunday, Girl in black).
Bit by bit, he managed to shape a unique comical persona, which made him recognisable and lovable to audiences from all age groups and cinematic sophistication.
He soon became the leading man in his films and he even attempted to create his own film production company, a venture which failed. He, however, managed to produce some very important films, directed by himself or by Dinos Katsouridis.
A lot has been written about Thanassis Veggos. He was one of the most important figures in the history of Greek cinema, comical or otherwise. His persona, based in no small part on his actual personality, combined something of a clown, a mime and a veritable karagiozis.
He was, in a sense, a Greek Charlie Chaplin but in his long-lasting career in theatre, cinema (where he participated in over 120 films) and television he managed to be much more than that.
From his role in Falakros Praktoras Thu Vu (Bald Agent Thu Vu, on the 1967 James Bond spoof of the same name) to his last role on the ambitious and artistic It’s a long road (1998) by Pantelis Voulgaris he crossed all kinds of boundaries, always in the service of art.
During the last decade, Veggos starred in several extremely popular television series but was otherwise withdrawn from public life and never gave interviews or made public appearances.
A notable exception was during a special commemorative event, held by the municipality of Piraeus in 2008, where it was announced that the public square next to his childhood neighbourhood would be renamed in his honour. Veggos, surrounded, by his wife Mina and two grandchildren, was moved to tears by the gesture.
He will remembered for the full span of his career ― his work will live on to amuse and inspire future generations of Greeks.
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