From Dancing To Daytime – George Chakiris

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Most know the name George Chakiris as an Academy Award® winning actor for his work in “West Side Story,” however there are daytime fans out there who may remember his work in the role of Daniel Espinosa on “Santa Barbara.” After Broadway and countless feature films, even dancing with Marilyn Monroe, George shares his views on the transition into daytime, saying, “The greatest challenge working on daytime television was keeping up with the schedule. Having to learn quickly and “move on.” I didn’t dare ask if I could do a scene over again when others were so skilled at learning AND giving such wonderful performances. I’ve always been in such awe of actors on daytime television since that time. And I love the daytime shows! All of them. One of my favorite actresses was the great Eileen Herlie of All My Children. Eileen was a huge star in the English theatre before coming to the states. And though she was too young, she played Laurence Olivier’s mother in his film of HAMLET. I was lucky to have worked with Eileen on stage in ‘The Corn Is Green.’ It doesn’t get better than Eileen. And she graced daytime television for a long time. That, to me, underscores the quality of daytime television.”
Phyllis 90th Birthday 2
George has parlayed his creative talent from the Silver Screen to Sterling Silver Jewelry. Many of the items, found on his site at, have been inspired by industry colleagues such as Eileen Herlie, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Moreno as well as good friend daytime fan, the iconic Phyllis Diller. Ms. Diller graced daytime dramas with her Fairy Godmother cameo on As The World Turns” (1984) as well as the role of Gladys Pope on “The Bold & The Beautiful” (1997 – 2012). “I never got to ask her about her experiences, because I was too busy trying to beat her at cards! Namely DILLER’S GIN, her creation – deuces wild! She was a whiz at gin rummy, and fantastic at keeping score. Such fun. I’ll bet she learned her lines really fast. And, of course, made people laugh.”
George, who appeared on stage at the 2014 Daytime Creative Arts Emmy® Awards, said, “I was so proud to be a presenter at the 2014 Daytime Creative Arts Emmy® awards. When I walked into the hall I was dazzled by all those EMMYS® lined up in two tiers on stage, ready to be given out. Awesome! The evening wasn’t televised so there was a relaxed atmosphere, but no less excitement. So great to be in a room with artists who love what they do, and see them honored and appreciated for it!”
In late 2011, George received, what many in the industry refer to as the highest honor and an experience that so few will ever know — having his hand and foot prints placed in cement in the forecourt of the Gramans Chinese Theatre (Now, the TCL Chinese Theatre). Reflecting on the day, George recalls, “In my wildest dreams I could never have imagined having my hand and footprints at Grumman’s Chinese Theatre. When I first studied dance at the American School of Dance on Hollywood Boulevard, I walked by Grumman’s every night after classes on my way home. I remember the marquee, and I remember on several occasions stopping to spend time just looking at the prints in the forecourt. It was late and it was quiet. Just me. I never thought ‘wouldn’t this be amazing?’. It was just so beautiful to see the signatures of those amazing people in cement. Cary Grant. Jean Harlow. Kind of dreamy. Actually, VERY dreamy. Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell’s prints were yet to come. Mine are now placed next to Natalie’s (Wood). How amazing is that??? So when I was honored I remembered that I had passed that great theatre so many times at night on my way home from class, a ‘small world’ thought occurred to me: West Side Story premiered at Grumman’s. We were all there; Natalie, Richard, Rita, Russ, our director Robert Wise, and our director/choreographer Jerry Robbins, everybody who had worked on the film. And there was a terrific party after the screening at the Coconut Grove, the best place in town. Everyone was dancing, having a great time doing the TWIST! Yes, the TWIST!!! And doing it really well. Great dancers all. Incredible, beautiful, and such FUN! It all turned out to be the stuff that dreams are made of. And it was all happening to us!”

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