JANNIS MAILLIS Portrait of Thanasis Veggos in his Dressing-Room ca. 1985 Athens - x +

CN: MaiJ1985vegg

MT: C-type print on paper, glazed in wooden frame by Le Nid (13x18 / F:30x34x1)

DN: Mrs. Anna Maillis - 2006

CM: Thanasis Veggos was a talented actor and amazing comedian. He was born to an impoverished family on 29 May 1927 in Piraeus. He made his debut in 1952. His first major role was in "Psila ta Heria Hitler" (Hands Up, Hitler), 1962. He often performed layman characters struggling to get by, but also anti-heroes. He starred in pure dramas, and acted on stage in Aristophanes' comedies. His characters are often named 'Thanasis'. He often worked with director Giorgos Lazaridis. A documentary of his life, whose title translates as "A Man for All Seasons", was made in 2004. He executed dangerous scenes without ever using a stuntman in his place. During the golden 60s of the Greek film industry he made famous films, like the sequel of "Mystikos Praktor 000" (Secret Agent 000), "Papatrehas" (Paparun), "Enas Trellos Veggos" (A Mad Veggos) and many others, most of them by his own company 'Thou-Vou Tainies Geliou' (T-V Laughter Films). Of course he never got his money back, as the perfectionist Veggos made these films expensive.

On a personal level, Veggos was exiled to Makronisos Island for political reasons from 1948 to 1950. On Makronisos he met director Nikos Koundouros, also exiled there, who in 1955 gave him his debut movie role in "Magiki Polis" (Magical City), and in 1956 the film "The Dragon" on a script by Iakovos Kambanellis. We will never forget his performance in the films "Ti ekanes ston polemo Thanasi" (What did you do in the war Thanasis) in 1971, and "Thanasi pare t'Oplo sou" (Thanasis, get your Gun) in 1972, both directed by Dinos Katsouridis, and his participation in "Isyhes Meres tou Avgoustou" (Quiet Days of August) in 1991, directed by Pantelis Voulgaris, and the film "To Vlemma tou Odyssea" (Ulysses' Gaze) in 1995 by Theo Angelopoulos.

In 2000 Veggos' car crashed, owing to his negligence, into a train, but he miraculously survived, as if it were a cinematic role. He later did advertisements on car safety and education. Veggos was married and had two children, living in Agia Paraskevi. In 2008, Veggos was appointed Commander of the Order of the Phoenix by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Karolos Papoulias.

Jannis Maillis took this photograph of his friend, Veggos, in his dressing-room. The photographer's wife, Mrs. Anna Maillis, recounts how - upon seeing his friend ready to take the shot - Veggos threatened to undress, which is what this photograph caught him doing. For Thanasis Veggos life and art was one and the same thing.

Thanasis Veggos died at 84 on 3 May 2011. His work will live on to amuse and inspire future generations of Greeks, as if he never parted from us.

[Angelos Skourtis 05/2011]