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George Chakiris

George Chakiris
Chakiris as Alex Solkin in Medical Center, 1970.
Born (1934-09-16) September 16, 1934 (age 85)
Norwood, Ohio, U.S.
Other names George Kerris
Occupation Actor, dancer
Years active 1947-1996

George Chakiris (born September 16, 1934) is an American dancer, singer and Academy Award-winning actor. He is best known for his appearance in the film version of West Side Story as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks gang.

Life and career

Chakiris was born in Norwood, Ohio, to Steven and Zoe (née Anastasiadou) Chakiris,[1] immigrants from Greece. Chakiris studied at the American School of Dance.[2]

Chakiris made his film debut in 1947, in the chorus of Song of Love. For several years he appeared in small roles, usually as a dancer or a member of the chorus in various musical films. He was one of the dancers in Marilyn Monroe's "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" number in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953), and appeared as a dancer alongside Rosemary Clooney in 1954 White Christmas,[3] in the "Love, You Didn't Do Right by Me" number. He can also be seen in the "Chop Suey" number in the musical film Flower Drum Song and the funeral dance in the MGM musical film Brigadoon.

His biggest success came with the 1961 film West Side Story, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Bernardo, leader of the "Sharks". Prior to the film, he had appeared as "Riff", leader of the "Jets", in the West End (London) production of the same musical.

Chakiris was in much demand. He starred as a doctor in the film Diamond Head (1963) opposite Charlton Heston and Yvette Mimieux, and appeared alongside Yul Brynner in Flight from Ashiya and Kings of the Sun. His fee around this time was a reported $100,000 per movie.[4]

Later he acted along with Catherine Deneuve and Gene Kelly in Jacques Demy's French musical Les Demoiselles de Rochefort (1967).

In addition to film, Chakiris performed on stage in London and around the U.S. and on television. In the early 1960s, he embarked on a career as a pop singer, resulting in a couple of minor hit songs. In 1960, he recorded one single with noted producer Joe Meek. He starred in the first national tour of the Stephen Sondheim musical, Company, touring as Bobby in 1971-72.

Chakiris worked more in television in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing on such series as Wonder Woman; Medical Center; Hawaii Five-O; Dallas; Murder, She Wrote; and the daytime soap opera Santa Barbara. He appeared in the final episode of The Partridge Family as an old flame/suitor to Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones, also a musical theater veteran). Their kiss goodbye was the final scene in the program's run.

Chakiris had a recurring role on the TV show Superboy as Professor Peterson during the first two seasons from 1988-1990. Chakiris's last role to date was in a 1996 episode of the sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. He has given occasional television interviews since then, but is mostly retired. His hobby of making sterling silver jewelry has turned into a new occupation,[5] working as a jewelry designer for his own brand, George Chakiris Collections, consisting of handmade original sterling silver jewelry. He maintains a personal website at


Year Film Role Notes
1947 Song of Love Choir boy as George Kerris
1951 The Great Caruso Dancer uncredited
1952 Stars and Stripes Forever Ballroom dancer uncredited
1953 Give a Girl a Break Dancer uncredited
Second Chance Background Observer in Dance Sequence uncredited
Gentlemen Prefer Blondes dancer
The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T Dancer as George Kerris
1954 There's No Business Like Show Business
The Country Girl Dancer with pick uncredited
White Christmas Dancer in 'Mandy' and 'Love' numbers uncredited
Brigadoon Specialty dancer uncredited
1955 The Girl Rush Chorus boy, 'Hillbilly Heart' number uncredited
1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas Young groom as George Kerris
1957 Under Fire Pvt. Steiner uncredited
1961 West Side Story Bernardo Nunez Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture
1962 Two and Two Make Six Larry Curado
1963 Diamond Head Dr. Dean Kahanna
La ragazza di Bube Bebo
Kings of the Sun Balam
1964 The High Bright Sun Haghios
633 Squadron Lt. Erik Bergman
Flight from Ashiya 2nd Lt. John Gregg
1966 Is Paris Burning? GI in tank
On a volé la Joconde (fr) Vincent
1967 Les Demoiselles de Rochefort Étienne
1968 Sharon vestida de rojo
Le Rouble à deux faces Eric Ericson
1969 The Big Cube Johnny Allen
1979 Why Not Stay for Breakfast? George Clark
1982 Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again Himself
1990 Pale Blood Michael Fury

Selected television appearances

Year Film Role Other notes
1956 Ford Star Jubilee episode - "You're the Top"
1969 The Jackie Gleason Show episode - "Mousey the Dip"
1970–1975 Medical Center Alex Solkin 3 episodes
1972 Hawaii Five-O Chris Lahani 1 episode
1974 The Partridge Family Capt. Chuck 'Cuddles' Corwin episode - "Anchors Aweigh"
Thriller Robert Stone episode - "Kiss Me and Die"
Notorious Woman Frédéric Chopin TV mini-series
1978 Wonder Woman Carlo Indrezzano episode - "Death in Disguise"
Return to Fantasy Island Pierre
1982 Fantasy Island Captain Claude Dumont episode - "The Magic Camera/Mata Hari/Valerie"
1983 CHiPs Bernard DeJardine Fox Trap TV episode
Matt Houston Brett Cole episode - The Showgirl Murders
1984 Matt Houston Clark Sawyer episode - "Waltz of Death"
One Life to Live unknown episodes
Poor Little Rich Girls Prince Rudolph episode - "The Gentleman Caller"
Nihon no omokage Lafcadio Hearn mini-series
Scarecrow and Mrs. King Angelo Spinelli episode - "Lost and Found"
1985 Hell Town Ric Montenez episode - "Let My Jennie Go"
1986 Dallas Nicholas 14 episodes.
1988 Santa Barbara Daniel Espinoza
1989 Murder, She Wrote Eric Bowman episode - "Weave a Tangled Web"
1989–1990 Superboy Professor Peterson 9 episodes
1992 Human Target Robillard episode - "Chances Are"
1995 Les Filles du Lido Saskia mini-series
1996 Last of the Summer Wine Max Bernard episode - "Extra! Extra!"


  1. ^ George Chakiris Biography (1934-). Film
  2. ^ George Chakiris. Yahoo! Movies.
  3. ^ "Biography for George Chakiris" on
  4. ^ Chakiris' Salary Hits Six Figures: Philippine Actor Climbing; Wide Screen for 'Squares'? Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 May 1962: C9.
  5. ^ Holleran, Scott. A Boy Like That. 21 March 2003.

External links

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