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27 October 2013

Aliki Vouyouklaki

Blonde, dark-eyed Aliki Vouyouklaki (Greek: Αλίκη Βουγιουκλάκη) (1934-1996) was one of the most popular and successful actresses of the Greek cinema. She appeared in 42 films, mostly comedies and musicals, and in a wide variety of television programs, theatre and stage productions.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 202. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Eliza Doolittle


Aliki Stamatina Vouyouklaki (also written as Vuyuklaki or Vougiouklaki) was born in Maroussi, Greece, in 1933 (or 1934, according to some sources). She had two brothers, film director Takis Vouyouklakis, and architect Antonis Vouyouklakis. Her father was killed by German troops during World War II.

She studied at the Drama School of the Greek National Theater and she started to act while still a student. Aliki made her stage debut in a 1953 Athens production of Molière's Le malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Patient).

Around the same time she made her first film, playing the leading role in To pontikaki/The little Mouse (Yorgos Assimakopoulos, Nikos Tsiforos, 1954), the Greek version of My Fair Lady. This debut would be followed by scores of other popular dramatic and comic films.

The late 1950's was her breakthrough period: on stage she starred as Eliza Doolittle in a successful 1958 revival of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion (the play on which My Fair Lady was based) and she took the leading part in a very popular film, To xylo vgike apo ton Paradeiso/Maiden's Cheek (Alekos Sakellarios, 1959).


Instantly, Aliki with her classical beauty became Greece's most popular star. A doll and a pastry were named after her. She featured in several films for production company Finos films during the ‘golden age of the commercial Greek cinema’; the early 1960s. Her trademark was a red hibiscus behind her ear.

She also created her personal theatre group and staged plays like Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth. She starred in Aristophanes' Lysistrata and Sophocles' Antigone in the ancient theatre of Epidaurus, both productions were massive commercial successes, but created great controversies.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 201. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 205. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

A Total Flop


Aliki Vouyouklaki won the Best Actress prize at the first Thessaloniki Film Festival in 1960 for her starring role in Madalena (Dinos Dimopoulos, 1960).

In 1965 she married her film and stage partner Dimitris Papamichail. They had met on the set as the leads of the romantic comedy To xylo vgike apo ton Paradeiso/Maiden's Cheek (1959) and had also fallen in love privately. Together, they went on to star in a number of popular films, includingI Aliki sto Naftiko/Aliki in the Navy (Alekos Sakellarios, 1961), which sold more than 590,000 tickets in Greece.

Alekos Sakellarios wrote the biggest comedy hits of the Greek cinema, and Aliki acted in them, singing the unforgettable songs of composer Manos Hatzidakis. Aliki herself allegedly wrote the script for the English language production, Aliki my love (Rudolph Maté, 1962) co-starring Wilfred Hyde-White. The film premiered both in London and Athens, but was a total flop.

While she was best-known in her native land, Vouyouklaki also had followings in Israel and Turkey. The film Htypokardia sto thranio/Heartbeats in High School (Alekos Sakellarios, 1963) was shot simultaneously in Greek and Turkish, with two different casts. Aliki starred in both versions, with her voice being dubbed in the Turkish version, Siralardaki heyecanlar (Alekos Sakellarios, 1963).

I neraida kai to palikari/The Fairy and the Man (Dinos Dimopoulos, 1969) was a comic version of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. In 1969, Aliki also gave birth to her only child, Yiannis Papamichail.

The following year came her biggest success with the film Ypolohagos Natassa/Battlefield Constantinople (Nikos Foskolos, 1970), about a young Greek woman who lost her husband during the Second World War. The film sold more than 750,000 tickets in Athens, and would stay the biggest moneymaker in the history of Greek cinema for almost three decades.

In 1970 she received the title, National Star of Greece. I Maria tis siopis/Maria of silence (Giannis Dalianidis, 1973) was a remake of the Hollywood production Johnny Belinda (Jean Negulesco, 1948) about a deaf and mute rape victim, originally played by Jane Wyman.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 206. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

Aliki Voyouklaki
Italian postcard by Select, no. 203. Photo: Giovanni Trimboli.

I Have A Secret


Eventually Aliki Vouyouklaki‘s marriage to Dimitris Papamichail became troubled. She shot her next film S'Agapo/I love you (Takis Vougiouklakis, 1971) without her husband and regular co-star, and the celebrity couple divorced in 1975.

Aliki continued to play in the theatre. Since 1971 she owned her own theatre, named Aliki. It staged one hit after another, among them Cabaret, My Fair Lady, and Educating Rita. Even though she was the number one box office star in Greece, Aliki went through an audition in London in order to get the rights to play the title part in the Rice-Webber musical Evita. About her portrayal of Eva Perón, Laurence Olivier later was quoted: "the best Evita I have ever seen".

After a seven year absence, she made her comeback at the silver screen in Poniro thilyko... katergara gynaika!/A cunning woman (Kostas Karagiannis, 1980), based on the W. Somerset Maugham play.

Her final film, Kataskopos Nelli (1981, Takis Vouyouklakis), was a strange mixture of two of her biggest theatrical hits, Cabaret and Evita. Shooting began in 1979 and the film was to be called The Girl At The Cabaret, but due to copyright problems (she was not granted permission to use the original songs of the musical) the project was shelved. Shooting was resumed in 1980 with a different storyline and new songs and the film was released in 1981.

Aliki would make only stage and TV appearances thereafter. She worked with playwright Willy Russell when she performed in his play Shirley Valentine in 1989. The last year of her life she starred in I melodia tis eftyhias (The Sound of Music), disregarding critics that thought that she was too old for the role of Maria. The musical was another box office smash and it was also filmed for TV.

Aliki Vouyouklaki died in 1996 in Athens from pancreatic cancer. Her funeral was attended by thousands of her fans. She was married twice, to Dimitris Papamichail (1965-1975) and to Giorgos Iliadis (1979-1980). In 2008, her son Yiannis Papamichail published a biography of his mother, Eho Ena Mistiko (I Have A Secret), which was also the title of a song the idol sang in her success film To Xilo Vgike apo to Paradiso (1959). In 2008 a television series based on the book, aired on Alpha TV channel.

Aliki Vouyouklaki
German postcard by Krüger, no. 902/231.


Aliki Vouyouklaki sings Thalassa platia in Madalena (1960). Source: outis27 (YouTube).


Aliki Vouyouklaki sings Katerina. Source: Chrysw M (YouTube).

Sources: Thanassis Agathos (IMDb), Sandra Brennan (AllMovie), Antenna News, Wikipedia, and IMDb.

3 comments:

Stacey said...

She's stunning- What a wonderful post card!

connie said...

she sure was - what a icon for the current greek age which she depicted so beautifully - the charm, the spirit of a nation...

brochure printing said...

Thanks for the information and interesting posts! There is so much to see and do there...guess you never run out of blogging ideas! What a wonderful post card.