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This Week in History, August 5th to 11th

AUGUST 7TH:

On this day in 1982, Vasileios Spanoulis, the Greek basketball player, was born in Larissa, Greece. Most of Spanoulis’ career has been spent playing in the Greek league, but he also had a brief stint with the Houston Rockets of the NBA. During the 2006-07 season, Spanoulis passed on his former team Panathinaikos’ (higher salary) offer to play for them for a chance to play in the NBA. After making the Rockets’ rotation, he had a falling out with the Rockets’ coach after he had benched him for playing poorly. He was eventually traded by the Rockets to the San Antonio Spurs who ultimately released him a little over a month after he joined the team. This gave Spanouli the chance he wanted: to return to Greece to play for Panathinaikos Athens. Spanoulis played for Panathinaikos until 2010 and then signed with Olympiacos. On July 2, 2018, he signed a one-year contract extension with Olympiacos. It has been reported that Spanoulis was the first Greek-born player to play for the Rockets and was the first Greek-born player in the NBA.

AUGUST 8TH:

On this day in 1990, Alexis Minotis, the Greek actor and director, was born in Chania on the island of Crete. He first appeared on stage in his native Crete as Chorus Leader and later as Messenger in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. From 1925 until 1930, he worked in close collaboration with the famous Greek actress Marika Kotopouli in her own theater. During this period, he appeared in the great Shakespearan roles in The Merchant of Venice, King Lear, Macbeth and played the title role in Hamlet, the first time the play had been staged in Greece.

He and his wife, the stage and film actress Katina Paxinou, were among the founding members of the National Theater of Greece (previously named Royal Theater). In 1946, he went to Hollywood to appear in Alfred Hitchcock’s Notorious with Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, and Claude Rains. In the same year, he also appeared with Robert Cummings and Michèle Morgan in The Chase. However, his and his wife’s greatest fame came after their return to Greece from Hollywood in the 50s when they rejoined the National Theatre of Greece and participated in such acclaimed productions as Hecuba, Oedipus Rex, and Medea both in Greece and abroad.

AUGUST 10TH:

On this day in 1920, the Treaty of Sevres was signed. This Treaty, which was ultimately replaced with the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923, was a post-World War I pact between the victorious Allied powers (excluding the United States and the USSR) and the representatives of the government of Turkey. The Treaty effectively abolished the Ottoman Empire and provided for an independent Armenia, an autonomous Kurdistan, and for a Greek presence in eastern Thrace. Smyrna and its environs were also placed under Greek administration pending a plebiscite to determine its permanent status. The Treaty was accepted by the government of Sultan Mehmed Vahdettin VI (in Constantinople) but was ultimately rejected by the new rival Turkish nationalist regime of Kemal Ataturk (Ankara). Ataturk had negotiated a separate treaty with the USSR and his subsequent victories against the Greeks during what Turkey calls its War of Independence forced the Allies to negotiate the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923.

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