His dynamic performance as Bernardo in the classic “West Side Story” earned George an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award. The film not only thrust him into the limelight, it subsequently enabled him to pursue an acting career in films both here and abroad. His dedication to quality was reaffirmed in June 1991 when he was summoned to Paris and awarded the status of “Offîcier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Government’s Minister of Culture for his contribution to the Arts.
The son of immigrant Greek parents, George was born in Norwood, Ohio, and raised in both Arizona and California.. A singing and dancing natural, he was a member of the choir at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Long Beach, California. The group was noted for having performed in dozens of films, and George appeared with them in a concert sequence in MGM’s “Song of Love”, starring Katherine Hepburn. This was George’s first experience at a major movie studio, and on a film set. At age fourteen it made a strong and lasting impression!
In the years prior to the film of “West Side Story”, George appeared in films with Cyd Charisse, Mitzí Gaynor, Donald O’Connor, Debbie Reynolds, Danny Kaye, Bing Crosby, Gene Kelly, and Rosemary Clooney. He Was in the classics “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, “Brigadoon”, White Christmas”, and “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”, starring Marilyn Monroe.
Wanting to work on the New York stage, George relocated to Manhattan where two friends offered him couch space until he found work. On a tip from one of them, he landed an audition for the London cast of the Smash Broadway musical “West Side Story”, and was chosen to play the role of Riff, the leader of the Jets. Jerome Robbins who conceived “West Side Story”, co-directed and choreographed the version as well, and cast George as Bernardo, the leader of the Sharks. It was the role that would earn George the Academy Award.
In Italy he starred with Claudia Cardinale in the politically intriguing “Bebo’s Girl”, and later in the romantic “The Theft Of The Mona Lisa” His European popularity wasreaffirmed when he starred in the French ‘The Young Girls of Rochefort”, with Catherine Deneuve and Gene Kelly.
George has also starred in with Brynner, Richard Widmark, Charlton Heston, Cliff Robertson, Dirk Bogarde, and Lana Turner.
Some of his theater credits include “The Corn ls Green” with Eileen Herlie, “Elizabeth The Queen” with Kim Hunter, Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” with Elaine Stritch, “I Do, I Do”’ “Camelot”, “The Fantasticks”, and George Bernard Shaw’s “Don Juan In Hell”.
In London’s West End George Won rave reviews starring for one year in “The Passion Of Dracula”. He also played Frederic Chopin opposite Rosemary Harris as the French novelist George Sand in the BBC mini-series “Notorious Woman”, which aired twice on PBS in the United States.
George continues to appreciate a loyal following in Japan and Europe, Where he Works in theater, films, television and the concert stage. His many American television credits include “Murder She Wrote”, and a recurring role on “Dallas”.
Recently George starred as the French Diplomat; Rene Gallimard, in the English National Tour of David Henry Hwang’s acclaimed drama “M Butterfly”, directed by Richard Olivier. This remains one of George’s most rewarding experiences in the theater.
George has just completed “Le Lido”, a mini series for French television to air later this year.