On this day in 1975, Nikos Kavvadias, the Greek poet, writer, and sailor, died in Athens at the age of 65. He was born in 1910 in Harbin, Manchuria – in the northern part of today’s People’s Republic of China. His parents were Greeks from Kefalonia and when he was very young, they returned to their homeland – first to Kefalonia and then to Piraeus. From his early years, he started to write and eventually became a significant poet in Greece. He published three collections of poetry as well as a novel and a series of short stories. Kavvadias loved the sea and traveled throughout his whole life. He wrote about the life on board, the sailors, and the things he loved most. His poems are widely regarded as belonging to the symbolist school and he has been characterized by some as a ‘poete maudit’ (a poet living a life outside or against society). Today there is a statue of Kavvadias located at the end of the beach of Argostoli in Kefalonia in a small square with a bench. The locals honored the artist and placed his statue next to the sea so that he could forever gaze lovingly at the boats that come and go.
On this day in 1954, Tzimis (‘Tzimakos’ as he was often called) Panousis, the Greek singer, songwriter, and stand-up comedian, was born to a refugee family from Asia Minor. He grew up in Holargos in northern Athens. Panoussis was known not only for his semi-raunchy comedy routines, but also for his rock albums, movie roles, and regular appearances on television and radio programs. According to EuroPopMusic, a famous court battle with the well-known Greek singer George Dalaras began in 1997. Panousis had frequently made fun of Dalaras in his live shows, showing money coming out of his mouth whenever he sang. The court ruled that Panousis would be charged with a 1 million Drachma fine (approximately $3,000) every time he mentioned Dalaras by name on stage. Panousis’ response to that was to call him “the unmentionable” in his show. His famous on stage quip became, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have three million Drachmas to spare: Dalaras, Dalaras, Dalaras!” In January of 2018, Panousis died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 64. He was rushed to the Erythros Stavros Hospital in Athens where doctors failed to resuscitate him.
On this day in 1930, Nico Minardos, the Greek-American actor and TV producer, was born in Pangrati, Athens. Known for The Twilight Zone (1959), Assault on Agathon (1976), and Mission Impossible (1966), he was a household name during his prime. A few interesting facts about Minardos: (1) In 1966, he and Eric Fleming were shooting a scene on the Huallaga River in Peru for a TV movie called High Jungle. The canoe they were in tipped over and both Fleming and Minardos were thrown into the river. Minardos managed to swim to shore, but Fleming unfortunately drowned. (2) Minardos traded his home in Beverly Hills for a sailing yacht in Florida, which he subsequently sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to Greece with a crew that included his son George. (3) In 1986, Minardos was caught in an FBI sting operation in New York and was indicted by then-U.S. Attorney Rudy Giuliani on charges of conspiracy to illegally ship arms to Iran. Minardos was interviewed by Mike Wallace for a segment of the CBS show 60 Minutes regarding his role in the case. Although the indictment was eventually thrown out, the cost of his legal defense drove him to the point of bankruptcy and also ended his Hollywood career. Minardos was the subject of a 2010 documentary about his life titled Finding Nico, which was produced and directed by his godson, Owen Prell, whose father was a longtime friend of Minardos from their bachelor days in Los Angeles in the 1950s.