If Martha Karagianni had been born in another country, bigger, with a developed cinematography that also addressed the international scene, she might have joined many famous stars, sex symbols of her time, as she succeeded with a unique ability to combine temperament, spicy and dancing, with comedy, the request many times for a production that wants to offer authentic entertainment – an escape from everyday life.

It is enough to remember her brief appearance in the trite political satire “Liar Wanted” by Dalianidis, the man who made her a star in the 60s, to briefly understand her charismatic acting presence. He appears in three scenes, perhaps the best of the film. In the first one, she dances in a night club and Pantelis Zervos and Dinos Iliopoulos are drooling, but even those who are watching the film today on TV for the hundredth time. In the second, she actually does a striptease in the MP’s office, but her coming out of it in only her underwear makes her more attractive than ever, clearly reminding Sophia Loren, while in the third scene, in which her husband shoots Iliopoulos and thinks she killed him, she also lends her acting comedic talent, especially in her exit from the shot. After all, it is no coincidence that this film paved the way for her to become a star, the object of desire for men and to win the admiration of women.

Completing a year since her death (September 18, 2022) it is worth recalling the most important scenes of her life and career, although her appearances in the cinema will always be a joy of life.

The refugee girl who lived the dream

Martha Karagianni was born in Piraeus on November 6, 1939 and grew up in the refugee camps of Keratsini by Pontian parents who had come from the depths of the East. Biowrestling people, who liked dancing and singing, instilled in their daughter the passion for music and dancing. Her father worked day and night so that she would not miss anything. She will do classical ballet, starting with the children’s section of the Lyric, with many dreams. But the cinema, the only economic entertainment of the time, will drive her crazy and she will fall in love with American musicals. The “American dream” was probably more possible in Greece for little Martha.

From classical ballet to the sets

The ten years of efforts in classical ballet will help her decisively in her later long career in theater and cinema. In a performance at her school, Orestis Laskos will notice her and at the age of 17 he will choose her for a small role in the well-known drama “The Stranger” of 1956. A little girl, she will be lucky to be on the set with renowned actors, but the most importantly in the form of the Greek theater Kyveli – in her second and last film – and her childhood love, the zen prize, Aleko Alexandraki. The success of the film will pave the way for her to appear in two more comedies, next to huge names, while in 1957, while dancing in the center of Fokionos Negri, she will be “stung” by Kostas Hatzichristos, suggesting that she participate in the revue ” Elephants and Fleas”, knowing the still nameless Yiannis Dalianidis. The following year she will play alongside the great comedian in “Count Hatzichristos”, while in 1959 Frixos Iliadis will give her her first leading role in “Agapi tis Voskopoula”. In 1960, he will co-star in the comedy “Three Dolls and Me”, where he will stand out. Thus, Dalianidis’ proposal for “Liar Wanted” will come, where her hot appearance will cause a wave.


Beautiful City, Finos and Voutsas

In theater he is doing just as well, even though he did not study at a drama school but at the “king of musical theater” Bournelis and next to giants such as Avlonitis, Stavridis, Rizo, Vassiliadou and will be lucky enough to participate in the famous performance of Bost – Theodorakis – Kakogianni “Beautiful City”. Great actors but most importantly, the holy monsters of popular music, Bithikotsis, Kazantzidis, Chiotis and Mary Linda were there and little Martha was close to them. He quickly established himself as a strong name in the theater and entertainment cinema of Finos Film alongside Dino Iliopoulos, Costas Hatzichristos, Giannis Gionakis, Rena Vlachopoulou, Zozo Sapoundzakis, Eleni Prokopiou and of course Costas Voutsas, with whom they developed as a delightful couple film by film . Their films (“The Little Man”, “Wedding Night”, “The Seas the Beads”, “The Barefoot Prince” etc.) will be a huge success and will be loved by the public, while through them they will be connected with a great eternal friendship .

Sex symbol

In 1964, there will be another appearance that will upset the Panhellenic nation. He will be in the comedy “The Heirs”, with the inimitable trio of Hatzichristou, Iliopoulos, Voutsa. In Dalianidis’ co-produced film, Karagiannis will dance almost naked, wearing only some feathers”, causing a stir and making her a sex symbol. Although not particularly tall, her perfect Mediterranean curves, her wonderful movement and her beautiful yet familiar face, will be the fantasy of men for years – as Dalianidis also said “the Greeks lusted after Martha, she was closer to their standards than any other actress.”

From a total of 42 appearances in the cinema, you will hardly find a film that failed or went unnoticed. Just a few more of her successes will be in the musicals “Something to Burn”, “Girls for Kisses”, “Date in the Air”, “Mermaids and Wizards” and “The Barber’s Beauty”, in the film, which despite her objections to Dalianidis, he will for the first time exclusively serve a buffoonish character and reliably so.

Back to the theater

The decline of the so-called commercial cinema will turn her to the theater, where in the 70s she will put on several notable performances. In 1972 she staged the current musical “Cabaret” directed by Alexis Solomos and having Dino Iliopoulos by her side. A show that will experience failure, in contrast to many shows that he will put on afterwards.

Love, marriage and motherhood

In this artistic success she was also helped by the love of her life, as she had confessed, with the goalkeeper of Panathinaikos Vassilis Konstantinos, whom she met in 1973 and divorced after 12 years, without ever marrying, but they will maintain a friendly relationship for always. Here, it should be mentioned that her only marriage was in the distant 1959, when at the age of 20 she fell in love with another football idol and charmer of the time, Mimi Stefanakos, who played for Olympiakos. The loss of their child will be particularly costly to their relationship, which will dissolve a few months later. Motherhood for Karagianni was a wound that closed many years later, with the maturity of the years and when she realized that life had finally treated her very well.

After all, Martha Karagianni didn’t complain about anything, she enjoyed her life, without scandals and anti-jealies or other stories that would feed the yellow press, she left her own joyful imprint on cinema and theater. She lived proudly and died quietly, causing emotion to all Greek men and women, even to those who only knew her from the movies on TV.