1. The first Greek to win an Oscar was Katina Paxinou who in 1943 won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the movie For Whom the Bell Tolls. Paxinou was born in Greece and was a founding member of the National Theatre of Greece in 1932. She left Greece following the outbreak of the Second World War moving first to Britain and then to the US. What made the award even more impressive was the fact that For Whom the Bell Tolls was Paxinou’s first ever role in films. She also won the Golden Globe for that role. Paxinou returned to Greece in the 1950s. She died in 1973.
2. Another actress, American-born Greek Olympia Dukakis (and cousin of US presidential candidate Michael Dukakis) won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the 1988 movie Moonstruck starring Cher.
3. In 1961, George Chakiris won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Riff in the Leonard Bernestein musical West Side Story that transposed Shakespeares’s Romeo and Juliet to the mean steets of New York. He was a dancer who took to acting and had been on the stage version of West Side Story before he landed the movie role.
4. In 2013, Antony Katagas, the American-born Greek film producer won an academy award for Best Picture as one of the producers of 12 Years a Slave. He shared the Oscar with Brad Pitt, Jeremy Kleiner and film director Steve McQueen.
5. Legendary Greek film director Elia Kazan twice won the Oscar for Best Director with 1947’s Gentleman’s Agreement and 1954’s On the Waterfront which gave Marlon Brando his superstar status. Method acting got a big leg-up in the process. Kazan, who was born in Turkey, was nominated as Best Director for three other movies, all of them milestones in movie history: A Streetcar Named Desire, East of Eden and America, America.
6. In 1964, Vassilis Fotopoulos won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction for Zorba the Greek. It did no harm to the career of the honorary Greek of Mexican extraction, Anthony Quinn who was nominated for Best Actor. Quinn was to take up the mantle of Zorba in a musical of the same name in the early 1980s. He was to play a Greek again in Onassis: The Richest Man in the World and The Guns of Navarone. He also played Zeus in five television movies based on the exploits of Heracles.
7. Ten years later, in 1974, Dean Tavoularis won Academy Award for Best Art Direction for his work in The Godfather Part II along with Angelo Graham and George R Nelson. The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Tavoularis, an American Greek, was also nominated for The Brink’s Job (1978), Apocalypse Now (1979), Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988) and The Godfather Part III (1990).
8. Theoni Aldredge who was born in Thessaloniki in 1922 and emigrated to the US in 1949, won her Oscar for Best Costume Design for her work in The Great Gatsby (1974), which starred Robert Redford.
9. The legendary Greek musician Manos Hadjidakis won the Academy Award for Best Original Song for his song Ta Paithia to Piraia in Never on Sunday.
10. Vangelis Papathanasiou, known to the world plainly as Vangelis won the Oscar for Best Original Score for 1981’s Chariots of Fire. No music has better captured the tension, passion and victory of athletic achievement.
11. Australia’s George Miller garnered the Oscar for Best Animated Feature for 2006’s Happy Feet. In 2015 he was in nominated in the Best Director category for his work on Mad Max: Fury Road.
12. Also deserving mention are American-born Louie Psihoyos who won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for his work on The Cove (2009).
13. Alexander Desplat, a Frenchman of Greek descent who twice won the Oscar for Best Original Score for The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – another film featuring his musical score for The Imitation Game was also up for nomination that year. He won a second Oscar in 2017 for his score for The Shape of Water.