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Aliki Vougiouklaki, “The National Star of Greece”

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Aliki Vougiouklaki, who was known as “The National Star of Greece.” Credit: Screenshot/Youtube

Aliki Vougiouklaki was one of the most popular stars in Greek cinematic history. The blonde stunner was so beloved that she was even given the title of “The National Star of Greece.”

Vougiouklaki was born in Marousi, a northern suburb of Athens, in 1934. The Greek star’s family’s roots are mainly from the village of Lagia in the Mani peninsula of the Peloponnese.

Her father, Ioannis Vougiouklakis, was the regional mayor of Arcadia in the Peloponnese during the Nazi occupation of Greece.

He was executed by members of ELAS, the Greek resistance movement against the occupation when Vougiouklaki was just nine years of age.

The lack of a father figure impacted Vougiouklaki immensely throughout her life. Her mother, who had two other children, was left to raise the family on her own, which was particularly difficult.

Vougiouklaki showed promise as an actress from a young age, and participated in school plays throughout her childhood.

Aliki Vougiouklaki’s education

In 1952, the starlet secretly auditioned for the drama school of National Theater of Greece, as she feared her family would not approve. Vougiouklaki passed the audition and soon began her classes.

While there, she studied under the tutelage of Dimitris Horn, who was one of the best theatrical actors in Greece.

A stellar student, Vougiouklaki was able to develop her natural talents at the school. While studying, the budding star was called to replace an actress who abruptly dropped out of a performance of Romeo and Juliet in the National Theater.

She jumped on the opportunity and performed in the role without official approval from the school. The actress received wonderful reviews for her performance and started to gain attention.

Although still a student, Vougiouklaki was in high demand in some of the most esteemed theaters in the Greek capital. While it was officially against the rules for the star to perform in such plays while still attending lessons at the school, an exception was made for the actress.

The Greek actress makes a name for herself

Upon her graduation in 1955, the name “Aliki Vougiouklaki” was already well known in the realm of Greek theater. The star began her career with theatrical productions, including Broadway musicals and works of ancient Greek drama.

Vougiouklaki had already starred in her first movie, The Little Mouse, in 1954, before finishing her studies. Her film career truly took off when the Greek actress received an award for her work in the film Madalena at the Greek Film Festival of Thessaloniki in 1960.

The same film, which was directed by Dinos Dimopoulos, legendary figure of the “Golden Age” of Greek cinema, represented Greece at the Cannes Film Festival the following year and received outstanding reviews.

The blonde actress soon became the favorite leading lady of many of the most important directors of the time.

In 1965, Vougiouklaki married former classmate and frequent collaborator Dimitris Papamichail. Four years later, she gave birth to their son, Yiannis Papamichail.

The couple divorced in 1975, and Vougouklaki met Greek-Cypriot businessman Giorgios Iliadis just a year later, but they kept their relationship hidden. The pair married in 1986 but divorced only months after the secret wedding.

Aliki Vougiouklaki’s career full of hits

Throughout her career, which spanned from the mid 1950s until the 1990s, Vougiouklaki starred in over forty movies and nearly sixty plays.

Vougiouklaki starred in the film Ipolochagos Natassa, or Lieutenant Natasa, in English,  in 1970. The film, which was about the Greek resistance against the Nazis, was the biggest box office hit in the history of Greek cinema for three decades.

She is also known for her more lighthearted roles, particularly those in which she sings, including the hit Aliki in the Navy in which she plays a girl who sneaks onto a navy ship.

The actress was particularly beloved for her sweet voice and playful style as an actress. In the 1960s, Vougiouklaki tried to break into the English-speaking market with the movie Aliki, but it was unsuccessful. After that attempt, the actress continued working on Greek films and plays and remained successful in Greece for many years.

While on tour in 1996, Vougiouklaki experienced severe stomach pains. After brushing them off for a few days, the actress went to the doctor with unbearable pain.

She was diagnosed with a malignant tumor in her liver, but the veteran actress continued to perform until what would be her last performance on stage on April 28th of that year.

Further medical tests found that “The National Star of Greece” had pancreatic cancer. Throughout the following month, Vougiouklaki sought out treatments in Europe and America, but none were successful.

Her condition declined rapidly, and by mid-July, she had fallen into a coma. The iconic star of Greek cinema passed away on July 23, 1996 in Athens. She was just 62 years of age.

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