Gregg Tallas (his actual name Grigoris Thalassinos), was born in Istanbul in 1909. From a very young age, and due to family professional commitments, he moves to cosmopolitan Atlantic City. Interested in the arts and aspiring to become an actor, Tallas registers to Princeton School, without his parents knowing!
1928: He moves to New York in order to study theatre and film at the American Laboratory Theater. He is then introduced to “Method Acting”, a dramatic technique introduced by Stanislavsky, the Russian theatre director.
1930: Enthusiastic about the Method, he moves to Moscow and for 15 months he attends courses run at Stanislavsky’s art theatre. Through-out this time, he stays in the legendary director’s apartment.
1931: He moves to Spain to meet Fererico Garcia Lorca, whom he had befriended at Greenwich Village’s intellectual cafés (New York 1928-9) where they used to meet. Tallas, fascinated by the combination of poetry and realism found in Lorca’s approach, follows his theatre tour for 6 months.
1932: Returns to Atlantic City where he establishes his own repertoire theatre under the name “Toy Theatre”. Performing both as a producer and director, he stages 40 plays of classic and contemporary repertoire, featuring actors like Orson Wells, Elia Kazan, Catherine Cornell, Martha Scott, and many more. Feeling restless, he runs, simultaneously a Drama School.
1935: He establishes Avant-Garde theatre, where he stages pioneering productions.
1936: He returns to Spain, in the Granada region, to fight with International Brigades against Franco.
1937: He directs the play Engagements/Arravoniasmata, written by Dimitris Bogris.
1938: He moves to Hollywood after an invitation made by Lewis B. Meyer, the owner and CEO of Metro Goldwin Meyer studios. He excels in editing and proves to be masterful in action scenes, not just in terms of editing, but, also in terms of script writing and directing. He wrote, directed and edited the action scenes of films like: Gone with the Wind, Doctor Jecyll and Mr. Hyde, Marie Antoinette, and others.
1946: He shoots his first film, Prehistoric Women, a United Artists productions, and right after that Sirens of Atlantis with the same studio.
1948: Together with his work in film, he founds another repertoire theater, Orchard Gables Repertory Theater, where he stages Chekhov’s Seagull, Ben Jonson’s The Alchemist, Molières’ The Bourgeois Gentleman, and many more. During this period, he familiarizes with different approaches in theater applied by Reinhard and Jenser Theater in Berlin, and Grand Guignol Theater in Paris.
1952: Knowledgeable, daring and with a wide experience in theater and film, he returns to Greece to shoot “Barefoot Batallion”. The Greek-American Hotelier, Petros Boudouris financially supported the production.
1958: He stages Elias Venezi’s play Peace/Galini at Kyveli Theater.
After the making of Barefoot Battalion, Gregg Tallas remained in touch with Greek theater and film production. He taught in the Film Schools of the time. Back then, Gregg Tallas and Christos Vachliotis were the only ones qualified to teach film. However, he never accepted Greek mentality, and in particular the mentality prevalent in the Greek theater of the time. His fondness of child actors led him to direct for National Greek Television, the series The Wooden Swords/Ta Xylina Spathia based on Pantelis Koliotsos’ novel. This was the great filmmaker’s last work.
Gregg Tallas died in Athens in 1993. Before his death, he had a car accident in the States, where he had gone to meet Telly Savallas, who would star in his following film. A member of the United Artists, Tallas was honored by the Hollywood Academy of Arts & Science. His film Barefoot Battalion is taught in universities and film academies.