Born in Neo Faliro, in Piraeus in 1927, Thanassis Veggos was one of the most popular and most talented Greek comedians.
Raised in a poor family, he did various jobs to make ends meet. With his father being a communist, Thanassis Veggos was sent to do his military service in Makronissos – the infamous exile island for communists. There he met Nikos Koundouros , who was on exile for his political beliefs.
It was in the early 1950’s when Nikos Koundouros – asked Thanassis Veggos to play a part in his first movie, “The enchanted city” (“Magiki Poli”). And it was Koundouros’ persistence that made Veggos become an actor.
At the beginning of his career, Thanassis Veggos held small yet characteristic parts in some of the most remarkable films in the 1950’s, Nikos Koundouros’ “The Ogre of Athens” (“O Drakos”), Dinos Dimopoulos’ “Mandalena”, Michalis Cacoyannis’ “A girl in Black” (“To Koritsi me ta Mavra”) and Jules Dassin’s “Never on Sunday”.
But it was in the 1960’s that his career really took off. A comedian by nature, Thanassis Veggos created an always recognizable folk character, with standard traits: benevolent and willing, restless literally and metaphorically, eternally optimistic, a dreamer and a fool, struggling to cope with the adversities of life, always with his particular, sometimes surrealistic sense of humor.
In 1964, following his vision to be an independent artist, Thanassis Veggos founded his own movie production company. Most of the movies he made were of great artistic value and box office hits as well. A perfectionist and a great director as well, Thanassis Veggos was really poor at financial management. Eventually the whole venture ended up in a bankruptcy that would take him years to recover from.
The Anti-Facist Statement Movies
1971 was a triumph year for Thanassis Veggos, as he received the award for Best Actor in a leading role, in Dinos Katsouridis’ “What did you do at war Thanassis?” in Thessaloniki International Film Festival, with the film winning another two awards, those for Best Film and Original Screenplay. In 1972 Dinos Katsouridis makes “Thanassis, grab your gun”, again with Thanassis Veggos in the leading role.
With the plot of both films set in Athens during the German Occupation in WWII, Katsouridis and Veggos find the perfect occasion to criticize the Junta regime imposed on Greece since 1967 and denounce its atrocities.
The Comeback: A Turning Point
Until the early 1980’s Thanassis Vengos kept making comedies, with a bitter taste though, with unemployment, injustice and the madness of the heartless city being some of the recurrent themes.
Within the years 1991 and 2011, Thanassis Veggos appeared in some of the most remarkable movies – none of which was a comedy – of the Modern Greek Cinema. Pantelis Voulgaris’ “Quiet Days in August”, “It’s a long road” and “A Soul so Deep”, Theodoros Angelopoulos’ “Ulysses’ Gaze”, Roveros Manthoulis’ “Lilly’s Story” – Lilijina zgodba and Nikos Tzimas’ “The Flight of the Swan” – the last movie Thanassis Veggos participated in – are some of them.
His presence in these films showcases that Thanassis Veggos wasn’t just a great comedian: he was a great actor.
Thanassis Veggos in the Ancient Theater of Epidavros
Probably every Greek actor’s dream is to appear in the Ancient Theater of Epidavros one day. Thanassis Veggos saw this dream come true three times, holding the leading role in Aristophanes’ comedies: in 1995 and 2001 as Trygaeus , in “Peace”, and as Dicaeopolis in “Acharnians” in 1998, all of them being a triumph.
Thanassis Vengos was the epitome of the meant-well, kind-hearted man, aspects of his personality highly appreciated by both his funs and friends.
He was married to the love of his life, Asimina. They had two sons and stayed together for 45 years, until 2011 when Thanassis Veggos died.
Thanassis Veggos Trivia
At the time Thanassis Vengos appeared as a young actor, as professional actors in Greece were considered those who had attended a drama school and held a license to work as such. Thanassis Veggos had never attended a drama school but he was given this license after he passed an audition in front of a special committee: his ranking was “an exceptional talent”.