PASSINGS: Michael Cacoyannis, Linda Christian

Share via

Michael Cacoyannis

Filmmaker directed ‘Zorba the Greek’

Michael Cacoyannis, 89, the Cyprus-born filmmaker and screenwriter who directed the 1964 film classic “Zorba the Greek,” starring Anthony Quinn, died Monday at an Athens hospital of complications from a heart attack and chronic respiratory problems.


Cacoyannis won multiple awards and received praise for the film versions of the Greek tragedies “Electra” (1962), “The Trojan Women” (1971) and “Iphigenia” (1977). His final film was “The Cherry Orchard” (1999).

He introduced Melina Mercouri in “Stella” (1955) and worked with such other well-known actors as Candice Bergen, Katharine Hepburn, Irene Papas and Vanessa Redgrave.

But he was best known internationally for the Academy Award-winning “Zorba the Greek” — the 1964 adaptation of Nikos Kazantzakis’ novel — joining up with composer Mikis Theodorakis, whose score for the movie remains an enduring Greek anthem.

In the film, a scholarly Englishman played by Alan Bates travels to the Greek island of Crete to visit a coal mine he inherited. Alexis Zorbas, played by Anthony Quinn, is his grizzled and larger-than-life cook and fixer.

The movie won two technical awards at the 1965 Oscars while Lila Kedrova won for best supporting actress. But Cacoyannis and Quinn both lost out to “My Fair Lady,” which was voted best picture that year.

Cacoyannis was born in 1922 in the Cypriot port of Limassol, when the Mediterranean island was still a British colony.


He studied law in London, but soon followed his interest in the arts, working for the BBC’s Greek service, studying drama, and eventually getting acting parts in the theater.

After moving to Athens, Cacoyannis made his debut as a director with “Windfall in Athens” in 1954.

Linda Christian

Hollywood starlet in ‘40s married Tyrone Power

Linda Christian, 87, a Hollywood starlet in the 1940s who married heartthrob Tyrone Power and went on to play the first Bond girl in a 1954 television production of “Casino Royale,” died Friday at her Palm Desert home after battling colon cancer, according to her daughter Romina Power.

Born Nov. 13, 1923, in Tampico, Mexico, Christian pursued an acting career in Los Angeles and eventually signed a contract with MGM.


A year after appearing in 1948’s “Tarzan and the Mermaids,” Christian married Power, one of Hollywood’s most popular leading men. She was the second of his three wives. They had two daughters, then divorced in 1956. Power died in 1958. She later had a brief marriage to British actor Edmund Purdom.

Christian’s famous curves led Life magazine to nickname her the “anatomic bomb.”

In 1954, she starred as the love interest opposite Barry Nelson’s James Bond in a TV adaptation of the Ian Fleming novel “Casino Royale” for the CBS series “Climax!”

—Los Angeles Times staff and wire reports