Michael Cacoyiannis, the Limassol-born film director responsible for the film Zorba, has died in Greece, aged 89.
Born in 1922 as a young man, he was sent in 1939 by his father, Sir Panayiotis Loizou Cacoyiannis, to London in England to become a lawyer so he could join the family firm. However, after producing Greek-language programmes for the BBC World Service during World War II, Cacoyiannis found an interest in film instead.
He ended up at the Old Vic school, and enjoyed a brief stage career there under the name “Michael Yannis” before he began working on films. After having trouble finding a directing job in the British film industry, Kakogiannis returned to Greece, and in 1953 he made his first film, Windfall in Athens. He was offered the chance to direct Elizabeth Taylor and Marlon Brando in the film Reflections in a Golden Eye, but declined.
Kakoyiannis has worked on many occasions with the Greek actress Irene Papas. In 1971, he teamed up once more with Papas for the film The Trojan Women, starring Hollywood legend Katharine Hepburn. He was a close friend to Darryl F. Zanuck and George Cukor.
He directed Stella in 1954 and the massively successful Zorba in 1964 which starred Anthony Quinn, Alan Bates and Irene Papas.
He was nominated for Academy Award five times. He received best director , best adapted screenplay and best film nominations for Zorba the Greek.