German-born cinematographer Walter Lassally, who won an Academy Award for the 1964 movie Zorba the Greek, has died following complications from surgery in a hospital on the island of Crete. He was 90.
Lassally retired to the village of Stavros in the 1990s and lived outside the city of Hania, near the beach that served as the backdrop for the movie’s final scene with actors Anthony Quinn and Alan Bates dancing to the music of Zorba the Greek.
He donated his Academy Award to Christiana’s Restaurant, a beach front taverna near the exact spot where the famous dancing scene with Quinn and Bates took space. The statuette actually was on display on the bar until a fire destroyed it in 2012.
Lassally was a local fixture for years, spending time talking to visitors and showing them film locations and sharing stories from the set.
“When we shot Zorba there were no roads, no electricity, no water and no trees — and not too much has changed,” Lassally shared with the travel blogger Joel Stratte-McClure while drinking a glass of honeyed raki on the sandy beach.
“I’ve been around the world and never found a place to live that’s better than this spot in Crete. It’s easy, relaxed and I like the volatile attitude of the mountain people.”
Beloved by visitors and locals alike, Walter acquired the nickname “Walter the Greek”.
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