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Interview: Oscar Winner George Chakiris Reflects on the Silver Age

Chicago – What is striking about George Chakiris is not so much the memories of his unforgettable performances in films of another era, but his true kindness and humility in the wake of all that jazz. Winner of the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1961, playing Bernardo in “West Side Story,” the combination of his youth, energy and gratitude comes from his roots as a dancer.

Chakiris was born of Greek immigrant parents in Norwood, Ohio. Ending up in Los Angeles at a young age, he was able to hook into his advocation by studying at the American School of Dance there (story below). He touched the last gasp era of great Hollywood musicals, famously backing up Marilyn Monroe in the “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend” number from the film “Gentleman Prefer Blondes” [1953] and started hearts a-fluttering when he made a key cameo one year later in the holiday film classic,
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