Prominent Greek actor, director and politician Kostas Kazakos died in Athens on Tuesday, 13 September, aged 87.

He had been hospitalised for weeks in Evangelismos Hospital in Athens after testing positive for COVID-19 in early August.

Kazakos was suffering from a chronic respiratory problem and died of multi organ failure.

He was born in 1935 in Pyrgos, Ilia. At the age of 18, he moved to Athens to study pedagogy, but due to his father’s leftist heritage he was not allowed to enrol at the school. As a result he changed his plans and attended the Lykourgos Stavrakos School of Cinema and the Karolos Koun Drama School of Art Theatre.

In 1957, he made his stage debut and worked thereafter with numerous theatre companies. He had supporting parts in a few movies, but his big break came in 1967, when he was given the lead role in the movie “Kontserto gia Polyvola” starring Tzeni Karezi. From 1968 to 1992 he was married to the actress Jenny Karezi, with whom he had a son, also actor Konstantinos Kazakos.

Throughout his career, Kazakos held prominent positions including, vice-president of the Hellenic Centre of the International Theatre Institute, general secretary of the Panhellenic Union of Free Theatre, and President of the Panhellenic Cultural Movement. At the same time, he was a founding member of the Hellenic Arab Association and a member of the Committee for the Licensing of the Profession of Actors.

He was honoured with the Golden Apollo, an actor award of the Athens Film Critics Association in 1967, and the first Gold Award of the Thessaloniki Film Festival in 1973 for the best theatrical production, Lysistrata. He was also honoured with the Award of the Union of Playwrights and Critics for his entire contribution.

In 1997 he married actress, Jenny Kollia and together they had four children. One of his daughters, Artemis-Georgia lost her life on June 25, 1999, at the age of 8 months, a week after her baptism after suffering from a rare disease.

Kazakos also made a move into politics and was elected MP with the Communist Party of Greece in 2007 and again in 2009.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis expressed his condolences to his family on social media.

“I was saddened to learn of the death of Kostas Kazakos. An exuberant and dynamic personality, who was constantly present in Art, as well as in public life as a member of parliament; both will now miss his imposing appearance and his characteristic voice,” Mitsotakis tweeted.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nikos Dendias also tweeted his condolences, calling Kazakos “one of the most significant actors in recent decades”.

The Communist Party of Greece released a statement of condolences that praised Kazakos’ career in the arts and his contribution to politics.