On this day in 1993, Andreas Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASKOK) won the general elections of Greece making Papandreou the prime minister of Greece for the second time. He served the country for about three years until his health forced him to retire in January of 1996. Papandreou attended the American College in Athens and studied law at the University of Athens. A Trotskyite, he was imprisoned briefly by the dictator Ioannis Metaxas and, when freed, fled to the United States where he received his Ph.D. from Harvard University, and obtained U.S. citizenship a year later. After serving in the U.S. Navy, he taught at Harvard, the University of Minnesota, and the University of California, Berkeley. When his father became Prime Minister of Greece in 1963, Papandreou gave up his U.S. citizenship, returned to his native country and won election to the Greek parliament – thereby jump starting his political career.
On this day in 1980, Apostolos Nikolaidis, the Greek footballer, passed away at the age of 84. Born in Bulgaria, Nikolaidis was a member of the Greek community. After his graduation from the Robert College in Constantinople, he first moved to Thessaloniki and then to Athens where he joined the family of Panathinaikos. He was a member of the team for more than 10 years and contributed to many different departments of the club and eventually became the manager of Greece’s national football team. He was elected president of the Hellenic Football Federation and for many decades served as a board member of Panathinaikos AC before becoming president of the club in 1974. Many have said that his contribution was significant in the transformation of Panathinaikos and its becoming a successful multi-sports club. As an honor upon his death, his coffin was carried on the shoulders of eight athletes from different PAO departments including football, track, volleyball and basketball. The home stadium of Panathinaikos on Alexandras Avenue in Athens was named after him in 1981 at a ceremony presided by the then Prime Minister Georgios Rallis.
On this day in 1958, Eleftheria Arvanitaki, the Greek singer, was born. Arvanitaki began performing professionally in 1980 when she joined the group “Retrograde Company” (a popular group of rebetika revivalists) and in 1981 she had her first guest appearance on a CD, being featured on the album of Vangelis Germanos entitled Ta Barakia.
Her solo career started in 1984 and since then she has recorded over 20 solo albums (most of which have gone platinum) and guest-participated in more than 70 albums. Many have said that Arvanitakis’ vocal qualities and her ability to combine the traditional and contemporary music of Greece have inspired some of the most distinguished composers, lyricists, and poets of the day to write songs for her that are now considered classics in Greek music.
On this day in 1999, Nicholas Metropolis, the Greek-American mathematician, physicist and computer scientist died at the age of 84. Metropolis was born in Chicago on June 11, 1915. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he joined the Manhattan Project in 1943. For most of his life he remained at Los Alamos, although he also spent time as a professor of physics at the University of Chicago. Metropolis is best remembered as one of the founding fathers, along with Stan Ulam and John von Neumann, of the Monte Carlo method, a broad class of algorithms that rely on repeated random sampling and which was used to design the first atomic bomb. Today, Monte Carlo is used for diverse applications, such as simulating traffic flow on highways, forecasting financial fluctuations in the stock market, and modeling radiation transport in the earth’s atmosphere.