Saturday, February 25, 2012

Man of Gold, Man of Silver: George Chakiris

MAN OF GOLD, MAN OF SILVER: GEORGE CHAKIRIS -- Academy Award winner George Chakiris is among the select group of people from the world of film who knows how it feels to hold the most coveted gold item in entertainment: the Oscar statuette. Measuring 13 and a half inches in height and weighing in at 8 and a half pounds, filmdom's greatest honor was so rightfully bestowed upon Chakiris for his amazing performance as "Bernardo" in the 1961 classic song and dance movie West Side Story.  The tall, handsome Chakiris sang and danced his way into the hearts of millions as the leader of the Sharks street gang (last November, Chakiris and two of his film costars Rita Moreno and Russ Tamblyn celebrated the 50th anniversary of West Side Story by putting their signatures, handprints and footprints in cement in front of the famed Grauman's Chinese Theater on Hollywood Boulevard where the film made its premiere!). Holding that sleek, sensuous Oscar statuette at the Academy Award ceremony left an indelible impression upon Chakiris -- and we'll explain how! For decades since, Chakiris has traveled the globe, greeting his many fans, performing in plays and musicals, doing Las Vegas shows, appearing in films (with such costars as Catherine Deneuve, Lana Turner and Charlton Heston), appearing on television ("Dallas," "Murder She Wrote," "Hawaii Five-O" just to name a few) -- oh, and did we mention he recorded several albums of Broadway and popular songs along the way? In other words, kids, he has been one busy man -- which is how making jewelry entered into his life! It was about a decade ago that Chakiris acquired a new dog Sammy -- and rather than be on the road for eight to ten months doing shows, he decided to spend time with his canine companion and that left time for the actor to work on a hobby to occupy his now-free days.  Always one who loves doing things hands-on, Chakiris enrolled in a jewelry-making class at Barnsdall Art Park in the Hollywood Hills and slowly over the course of the years fell in love with making jewelry. "I was hooked at that point," Chakiris tells Studio of Style during an interview last week, "and eventually -- and quite unintentionally -- I had created an entire collection of items.  A friend of mine introduced me to a Japanese man who was curious about my jewelry -- and he became my representative in Japan and my pieces have been displayed at the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Tokyo ever since." No one, not even Chakiris himself, could have predicted what started out as a hobby at first would become a passion that would find a completely new direction for Chakiris -- or shall we say, another feather in his multi-talented hat!  His jewelry -- not surprisingly -- has turned up on the red carpet, and on "The Today Show" and CNN being worn by an array of stars such as Morgan Fairchild, Rita Moreno, Tippi Hedren, Loni Anderson, Carol Channing, Donna Mills, Romi Dames, Phyllis Diller, Alison Arngrim, Mary McDonough and Michael Learned to name a few. The beautiful gleam of sterling silver is Chakiris' metal of choice and what a beautiful choice it has become for him. "Being able to realize a piece in my head, then making it with my hands and then seeing it being worn brings a rewarding gratification to me," says Chakiris. Among his many inspirations for his pieces is the Egyptian scarab, but Chakiris was intent on streamlining its shape, making it more sleek and modern -- and he has certainly done so with his "Scarab Collection" -- just one of four unique collections that also include "The Lucky 7," "Take 5" and his trademark "GC Logo" which incorporates the letters "G" and "C" into a clever Greek key motif (after all, he is of Greek heritage!). And the entire range of jewelry is offered, from necklaces, cuff bracelets, rings, earrings, pendants, cuff links, money clips -- and the amazing "Artifact Belt" (pictured above) which demonstrates Chakiris' ability to create the most imaginative of items. "The inspiration for this belt," says Chakiris, "comes from the dream of finding a sunken Spanish galleon loaded with treasure.  The buckle is sculpted on both sides to resemble what might have been a coin or neckpiece."  The 36-inch length of the chains is adjustable so that it can be worn around the waist or the hips.  Studio of Style's interview with the equally-amazing George Chakiris showed us what a truly talented man he is -- no wonder he is still beloved by fans worldwide. Check out his website and let us know what your favorite pieces are, okay?  Naturally, we'll let the Academy Award winner have the final words here: "The parallel between acting and making jewelry is quite similar," Chakiris notes. "There is discipline, patience, persistence and dedication in making both successful."  Well said, Mr. Chakiris!
Portrait of George Chakiris and select jewelry by Greg Firlotte