Harvey Brownstone Interviews Academy Award Winning Actor, George Chakiris
Harvey Brownstone conducts an in-depth interview with Academy Award Winning Actor, George Chakiris.
He is best known for his appearance in the 1961 film version of West Side Story as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks gang, for which he won both the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture.
West Side Story had been running for a year on Broadway, and Chakiris auditioned for Jerome Robbins. He was cast in the London production as Riff, leader of the Jets. The musical launched on the West End in late 1958, and Chakiris received excellent reviews, playing it for almost 22 months. The Mirisch Brothers bought the film rights to West Side Story and tested Chakiris. They ended up feeling his dark complexion made him more ideal for the role of Bernardo, leader of the Sharks, and cast Russ Tamblyn as Riff.
The film of West Side Story (1961) was hugely successful, and Chakiris won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance.
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 has given occasional television interviews since then but is mostly retired. His hobby of making sterling silver jewelry has turned into a new occupation, working as a jewelry designer for his own brand, George Chakiris Collections, consisting of handmade original sterling silver jewelry.
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