skip navigation
George Chakiris

George Chakiris

Up
Down

| VIEW ALL

TCM Messageboards
Post your comments here
ADD YOUR COMMENT>

share:

TCM Archive Materials VIEW ALL ARCHIVES (1)

Recent DVDs

 
 

The Girl Swappers DVD In the British comedy of errors "The Girl Swappers" (1962), a feckless Air Force... more info $24.95was $24.95 Buy Now

Superboy: Season 1 DVD All 26 episodes from the first season, including "A Kind of Princess,"... more info $29.98was $29.98 Buy Now

Brigadoon DVD Lerner and Loewe's magical musical romance.Look on a map and you won't find it.... more info $19.98was $19.98 Buy Now

Diamond Head DVD Prejudice and hypocrisy hit the hot sands of Hawaii in "Diamond Head" (1963),... more info $14.99was $14.99 Buy Now

Hollywood Singing And Dancing: A Musical... The musical has been a Hollywood staple since the birth of the talkies, when... more info $29.99was $29.99 Buy Now

Hollywood Singing And Dancing: A Musical... A 2-disc, can't-miss celebration of the Hollywood musical, including rare... more info $59.99was $59.99 Buy Now



Also Known As: George Kerris Died:
Born: September 16, 1934 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Norwood, Ohio, USA Profession: actor, dancer, choirboy, singer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A talented stage and screen dancer, actor George Chakiris rose from the chorus to the role of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks, in the celebrated film version of "West Side Story" (1961). His fiery turn won him an Academy Award, but did not translate into lasting fame. After a sporadic career in Hollywood as heroic young men of various nationalities in "Diamond Head" (1963) and "Kings of the Sun" (1963), he made a handful of fine if little-seen European films, including the charming French musical "Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967), before settling into character turns as heels or middle-aged Lotharios on American primetime and daytime television. If Chakiris felt any disappointment over his stalled time in the spotlight, he remained remarkably diplomatic at numerous tributes to "West Side Story," frequently citing it as his proudest accomplishment. It was undoubtedly the finest showcase for his dancing skills and magnetic screen presence, which went untouched in the half-century since the film's release.The son of Greek immigrants from Turkey, George Chakiris was born Sept. 16, 1934 in Norwood, OH. His family relocated frequently throughout his childhood before eventually settling in Long Beach, CA....

A talented stage and screen dancer, actor George Chakiris rose from the chorus to the role of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks, in the celebrated film version of "West Side Story" (1961). His fiery turn won him an Academy Award, but did not translate into lasting fame. After a sporadic career in Hollywood as heroic young men of various nationalities in "Diamond Head" (1963) and "Kings of the Sun" (1963), he made a handful of fine if little-seen European films, including the charming French musical "Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967), before settling into character turns as heels or middle-aged Lotharios on American primetime and daytime television. If Chakiris felt any disappointment over his stalled time in the spotlight, he remained remarkably diplomatic at numerous tributes to "West Side Story," frequently citing it as his proudest accomplishment. It was undoubtedly the finest showcase for his dancing skills and magnetic screen presence, which went untouched in the half-century since the film's release.

The son of Greek immigrants from Turkey, George Chakiris was born Sept. 16, 1934 in Norwood, OH. His family relocated frequently throughout his childhood before eventually settling in Long Beach, CA. There, Chakiris joined the choir at St. Luke's Episcopal Church, and appeared with them in the 1947 musical "Song of Love" with Katherine Hepburn and Paul Henreid. The experience inspired him to find a way into the movie business, but he lacked the means to do so. After a brief stint at Long Beach City College, he discovered the American College of Dance in Hollywood, and became obsessed with joining the school and learning the craft. Chakiris had been dancing from an early age, often joining his sister in impromptu routines in the family's living room, but his visit to the college solidified his desire to dance in the movies. He took a job at the May Co. department store, which paid for a room on Hollywood Boulevard and the tuition to the school, as well as for night classes in dance, singing and drama. By 1951, he was appearing as a dancer or chorus member in numerous musicals, including the iconic "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number with Marilyn Monroe in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" (1953), "White Christmas" (1954) and "Brigadoon." Most of Chakiris' early appearances were uncredited, though in films like "The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" (1953) and "Meet Me in Las Vegas" (1956), he was billed as George Kerris.

In 1958, he headed for New York City to make his mark on Broadway, but ended up in London for an 18-month stint as Riff in the West End production of "West Side Story." His experience with the show helped him land the part of the hot-blooded Bernardo when Robert Wise began casting for his 1961 film version, which in turn, launched his film career in a spectacular fashion. Wise's "West Side Story" won 10 Academy Awards, including a Best Supporting Actor trophy for Chakiris, as well as a Golden Globe. His success led to a five-picture deal with United Artists, though the terms of the contract were "pay or play;" in other words, if he found no concrete work prior to a payment, the studio would cast him in a film of their choice. This led to a string of high-profile but unremarkable features that frequently cast Chakiris as a headstrong ethnic type. He was a kindly Hawaiian doctor in "Diamond Head" (1963) opposite Charlton Heston, then a Mayan prince in J. Lee Thompson's "Kings of the Sun" (1963) and a Greek resistance fighter in "The High Bright Sun" (1964).

Most of these efforts had little impact on the box office, leading Chakiris to find more substantive work in Europe, most notably as the young hero of Luigi Comencini's award-winning crime film "La ragazza di Bube ("Bebo's Girl" ) (1963) and as a smooth-talking carny in Jacques Demy's beloved musical "The Young Girls of Rochefort" (1967) with Gene Kelly and Catherine Denueve. By the late-1960s, he was concentrating largely on a career as a nightclub singer while spending most of his screen time on television in a variety of guest-starring roles as either suave international villains or well-preserved romantic figures like Shirley Jones' old flame in the final episode of "The Partridge Family" (ABC, 1970-74). In 1974, he received praise for his turn as composer Frederic Chopin in the BBC miniseries "Notorious Woman" with Rosemary Harris as poet George Sand.

By the mid-1980s, Chakiris was a staple of daytime television, with recurring turns on soap operas like "One Life to Live" (ABC, 1968-2012) and "Santa Barbara" (NBC, 1984-1993) as well as a run on "Dallas" (CBS, 1978-1991). After a two-season stint as Professor Peterson, who aided "Superboy" (syndicated, 1988-1992) in fighting crime across Metropolis, he retired from screen acting, though he returned infrequently to the stage for productions of "The King and I" and "Jane Eyre." Chakiris devoted most of his time to creating and designing silver jewelry, which began as a hobby before blossoming into a full-time career.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Pale Blood (1991) Michael Fury
2.
 Why Not Stay For Breakfast? (1979) George Clark
3.
 Return to Fantasy Island (1978) Pierre
4.
 The Big Cube (1969) Johnny Allen
5.
 The Day the Hot Line Got Hot (1969) Eric Ericson
6.
 The Young Girls of Rochefort (1968) Etienne
7.
 Is Paris Burning? (1966) G.I. in tank
8.
 McGuire, Go Home! (1966) Haghios
9.
 Bebo's Girl (1964) Bebo [Bube]
10.
 633 Squadron (1964) Lieut. Erik Bergman
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1947:
Appeared as a member of the chorus in his film debut "Song of Love"
1953:
Played a chorus boy in "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes"
1954:
Cast as a dancer in the films "White Christmas," "Brigadoon," and "There's No Business Like Show Business"
1956:
Made television debut on the CBS Cole Porter tribute "You're the Top"
1957:
Made dramatic acting debut in the war drama "Under Fire"
:
Played Riff in the London staging of "West Side Story"
1961:
Landed breakthrough film role as Bernardo in the big screen version of "West Side Story"; received Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role
1962:
Landed on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with the song "Maria" (No. 110)
1967:
Co-starred with Catherine Denueve and Francoise Dorleac in "Le demoiselles de Rochefort/The Young Girl of Rochefort"
1975:
Portrayed Chopin in the BBC biographical miniseries "Notorious Woman"
1986:
Played recurring role on CBS series "Dallas"
1990:
Acted in his last feature "Pale Blood"; released direct-to-video in 1992
1995:
Returned to the stage as the King in a Los Angeles production of "The King and I"
1996:
Portrayed Rochester in the London stage musical "Jane Eyre"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

American School of Dance: -

Family close complete family listing

father:
Steven Chakiris.
mother:
Zoe Chakiris.

Please support TCMDB by adding to this information.

Click here to contribute