Born in Piraeus in 1900, Katina Konstantopoulou Paxinou was one of the greatest – if not the greatest – Greek actresses.
Daughter of the well-off businessman Vassilis Konstantopoulos, Katina was raised in a wealthy family and received an excellent education. At the age of seventeen she gets married to a rich businessman, Ioannis Paxinos. They will have two daughters but their marriage will last for only six years. Katina will keep her ex-husband’s last name, a name meant to designate a legend: Katina Paxinou.
In 1920 the opera “Sister Beatrice”, specially written for Katina Paxinou by the great Greek composer Dimitrios Mitropoulos will be on the Municipal Theater of Piraeus with Katina Paxinou in the leading role.
Katina Paxinou worked with the two top drama actors of her era, Emilios Veakis and Alexis Minotis, her second husband ant the love of her life. Jocasta, Lady Macbeth, Medea, Bernarda Alba, Hedda Gabler are some of the major female leading drama roles Katina Paxinou interpreted.
The Oscar – The International Career
During WWII, Katina Paxinou moves to the USA. She will appear in ten movies as well as on Broadway plays. In 1943, her interpretation of Pilar in the movie “For whom the bell tolls”, will earn her the Oscar for the Actress in a Supporting Role. She is the first non-American actress to win an Oscar.
In 1947, Eugene O’Neil grants the rights for “Mourning becomes Helectra” to be made into a movie on condition that Katina Paxinou plays the role of Christine Mannon. So she did, and received the Cocteau award.
Having left behind her a true legacy in acting, Katina Paxinou died after a long and painful battle with cancer in 1973.