George Chakiris was a nameless background dancer until the Academy and the Golden Globes awarded him Best Supporting Actor in 1962. Read more about the legendary performer and George Chakiris net worth.
Elon Musk believes that high school diplomas and college degrees are overrated. Anyone can accomplish anything if they have the passion and the drive to chase after their dreams. Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are just two examples from the world’s richest billionaires list.
The statement is also true for George Chakiris. He held no theater degree, and prior to West Side Story, almost all of George’s performances were uncredited. But in 1962, the Oscars and the Golden Globes fittingly awarded George Chakiris Best Supporting Actor.
George Chakiris net worth is estimated at $24 million, accumulated from his success as an actor and entrepreneur. The 89-year old actor retired after his appearance in Last of the Summer Wine in 1996. Chakiris returned in 2021 for two film projects.
[Related Read: James Rolfe Net Worth]
George Chakiris – Short Bio
George Chakiris, also known as George Kerris, was born on September 16, 1932, in Norwood, Ohio. His parents, Steve and Zoe, were Greek migrants from Turkey. And from Ohio, the couple towed their extensive family of eight children when they moved to Long Beach, California, in 1944.
George did make plans to finish college after graduating from Woodrow Wilson Classical High School. He attended Long Beach City College to pursue a degree but dropped out only after a year. Whatever field he was trying to take, it simply bored him. He packed up and moved to LA.
George dove, head first, into the City of Angels. He took up dancing lessons at night and worked in advertising for a California department store during the day.
George Chakiris’ Career
George’s interest in acting and performing began at a young age. He debuted at fifteen in the 1947 film Song of Love as George Kerris. In April of 1951, he was given the role of a dancing extra in the biographical film by Richard Thorpe and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, The Great Caruso.
George Chakiris Early Films
The actor played minor roles from 1951 to 1957, there were easily forgettable parts, but most of George’s gigs were that of a charming background dancer. Out of the fourteen movies he was involved in within the time frame, the actor was only credited twice as George Kerris.
- 1951 The Great Caruso
- 1952 Stars and Stripes
- 1953 Call me Madam
- 1953 The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T – George Kerris
- 1953 Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
- 1953 Second Chance
- 1953 Give A Girl A Break
- 1954 Brigadoon
- 1954 White Christmas
- 1954 The Country Girl
- 1954 There’s No Business Like Show Business
- 1955 The Girl Rush
- 1956 Meet Me in Las Vegas – George Kerris
- 1957 Under Fire – Private Steiner
[Related Read: FouseyTube Net Worth]
West Side Story
George Chakiris knew that he was destined for something greater but, at the time, was thankful for every opportunity. He always performed at his best while dancing in the shadows. But George caught the attention of Broadway after a fan sent a cropped picture of him.
The random intervention pulled the young stage actor from the background. George The event led to Chakiris receiving a career-breaking opportunity after landing the role of Riff in London’s West End stage production of West Side Story.
1958 West End Stage Performance
After the original Broadway production of West Side story in 1957, the success led to London’s West End production in 1958. George auditioned for Jerome Robbins and was given the role of Riff, leader of the Jets. The play received spectacular reviews and lasted for 22 months.
1961 West Side Musical Film
Jerome Robbins came up with the musical West Side Story in 1949 as a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet. The play found success on stage as a spinoff of the timeless Shakespearean classic. And before long, plans for a film adaptation were announced.
Instead of letting him reprise the role of Riff, the Mirisch brothers thought that the character of Bernardo Nunez was more suitable for the actor. And to everyone’s surprise, the glove couldn’t fit any better. The movie was a big hit, and Chakiris’ portrayal was a big part of the success.
In 1962, George Chakiris’ name echoed with the success of the musical film West Side Story. He and his female counterpart, Rita Moreno, won the Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress categories from both award-giving bodies for West Side Story.
The musical film won 28 awards and ten nominations. West Side Story received ten wins from the Academy, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematography. The film received three wins from the Golden Globes, including Best Motion Picture – Musical.
The Mirisch Company
George Chakiris’ astronomical achievement opened a three-picture deal with The Mirisch Company. Now a star, He was offered no less than $100,000 per film, significantly improving George Chakiris net worth compared to the wage he was earning as a glorified extra.
Flight from Ashiya was the first of three projects. The film was inspired by the 1956 novel Rescue! by Elliot Arnold, released in the US in March 1964. The movie had a budget of $2.3 million. Unfortunately, Flight from Ashiya’s box office sales were never disclosed.
Kings of the Sun was released in 1963. The film reunited Chakiris and Yul Brunner for the movie. It had a budget of $4 million but only made $1.6 million at the box office, making it a huge flop.
Chakiris’ third and last movie with Mirisches was 633 Squadron. He co-starred in the 1964 British war film with Cliff Richardson. The film did much better compared to the first two. 633 Squadron earned $1.6 million from a $1.4 million budget at the box office.
After three flops in a row, George Chakiris called it quits. He walked away from The Mirisch Company, saying that the poorly received movies resulted from his bad judgment. Chakiris noted that he was optimistic and saw the potential instead of the actual quality of the films.
Television Series and Specials
George Chakiris started receiving better roles after the success of the musical film West Side Story. The offers he received after the flops with the Mirisches were hardly an improvement. But there was always the exemption of musicals and appearances in television series.
George Chakiris was seen on famous television series like Dallas, Murder She Wrote, Hawaii Five-O, and Medical Center. He also appeared in specials like 1959’s Ford Star Jubilee and late-night variety shows like The Carol Burnett Show and The Jackie Gleason Show.
George Chakiries appeared in 26 different television shows from 1956 until his initial retirement in 1996.
[Related Read: Rick Leventhal Net Worth]
George Chakiris Net Worth – Frequently Asked Questions
How Much is George Chakiris Net Worth?
George Chakiris net worth is $24 million for the current year. He found success as an actor and stage performer in the beginning in the late 50s to the early 60s. He won the category for Best Supporting Actor for both the Golden Globes and the Academy Awards for West Side Story.
After Chakiris had his fill of show business, he retired in 1996. He became a jewelry designer and successfully established his line, the George Chakiris Collections.
What Happened to George Chakiris?
After over fifty years in the entertainment business, George Chakiris left the stage and Hollywood in 1996. He started losing interest in Hollywood after witnessing how the majority of his films failed at the box office. Chakiris eventually left acting to create his jewelry line.
Does George Chakiris Have a Family?
George Chakiris was never married, nor did he have kids. He remained a bachelor not because of his orientation but because Chakiris’ sole focus had been his career. But life is not exactly quiet for the 89-year-old Wet Side Story superstar.
Because despite being childless, George Chakiris is one of eight siblings. The number simply equates to having a horde of grandchildren and great-grandchildren from extended families.
George Chakiris Net Worth – Final Thoughts
After two decades into retirement, the actor makes a comeback and reminds the world why he is a legend. It is amazing how Chakiris can devote himself to one thing for a long time and shift to a new chapter or revisit an old one when the need calls for a change.
George Chakiris net worth is an accumulated fortune of $24 million. After he succeeded as an entrepreneur, it’s not so strange for him to take another swing at his true passion – acting.
Who else had to recheck Chakiris’ birthdate after seeing how great he looks at 89 years old? We’ve heard the term, aging gracefully, at least once. And if our elderly features truly reflect our contentment, then George Chakiris must’ve genuinely had a wonderful life away from the spotlight.
Founder of Spark Nomad, Radical FIRE, Celebz Net Worth, Copywriter
Expertise: Personal finance and travel content. I’m a full-time traveler, and I’ve been to 49 countries and 5 continents.
Education: Bachelor of Economics at Radboud University, Master in Finance at Radboud University, Minor in Economics at Chapman University.
Over 200 articles, essays, and short stories published across the web.
Marjolein Dilven is a journalist and founder of Spark Nomad, a travel platform, and Radical FIRE, a personal finance platform. Marjolein has a finance and economics background with a master’s in Finance. She has quit her job to travel the world, documenting her travels on Spark Nomad to help people plan their travels. Marjolein Dilven has written for publications like MSN, Associated Press, CNBC, Town News syndicate, and more.