Stefan Gryff – In Memory Of The Actor Who Played Captain Michael Krasakis, Alongside Ian Hendry In The Lotus Eaters [1938 – 2017]

Picture above: Stefan Gryff and Ian Hendry in The Lotus Eaters.

A key aim of this website is to also shine a light on the fellow professionals who worked alongside Ian Hendry – on both sides of the camera and stage. Recently, it was brought to my attention by the excellent Michael J. Bird Tribute website, that the actor Stefan Gryff has died. Stefan is perhaps best known for his roles as Captain Krasakis in the TV series The Lotus Eaters [1972/73], The Major in Who Pays the Ferryman [1977] and as Charolambous in The Aphrodite Inheritance [1979] – all three series created by the writer Michael J. Bird.

Given that Stefan’s passing has been relatively unnoticed by the mainstream media, we wanted to pay our own tribute to his life and career. Since it’s creation, Chris Williams has been a very enthusiastic supporter of the Ian Hendry Tribute website and associated Facebook page. He is also a huge fan of The Lotus Eaters series and the work of Michael J. Bird. He kindly offered to write this following piece in memory of the fine actor, Stefan Gryff and in particular, elaborate on his important contribution to The Lotus Eaters.

 

Picture: Stefan Gryff with Peter Cushing – Legend of The Werewolf [1975]

In Memory – Actor Stefan Gryff

By Chris Williams:

Stefan-Erwin Gryff was born 5th May 1938 in Warsaw, Poland the son of Feliks and Halina Gryff. It’s not clear how or when he moved to Australia but somehow he either survived or avoided the horrors of Wartime Poland which must have been a small miracle for a little Jewish Polish boy. He studied law at the University of Sydney and also began to get involved in acting. He practiced law in Australia, before moving to London where he appeared in plays and theatre before moving into television and films.

In 1972, he appeared in The Lotus Eaters alongside Ian Hendry – considered to be his most famous part. He played the local police official, Captain Michael Krasakis. With his natural charisma and presence, he soon made the character his own and his performance was a significant contribution to the success of the series. Stern and official, caring, supportive, and unerringly loyal, he valued nothing more highly than his friendship with Erik Shepherd. The part required someone who could go up against Ian Hendry and match him in terms of acting and character portrayal. Stefan met the challenge head on in every scene, and it brought the best out in both of them. In the episode ‘and Hera had a sister’ Erik crassly suggests that policemen are immune to vulnerability which earns the famous rebuke from Krasakis. ‘Conscience my friend, is every man’s cross, as shame is his crown of thorns. To claim a monopoly in either is presumptuous.’ The line is delivered with perfect timing and emphasis by Gryff. These philosophical quips became his trademark.

Captain Krasakis became one of the bed rock characters of the series. He was so successful in the role that the series writer Michael J. Bird proposed a whole new series based on the character called ‘KRASAKIS’, but the BBC never went ahead with it. Despite this, Bird wrote him into his next series Who Pays The Ferryman? as ‘The Major’ – but it was still the same character. Three of the Ferryman episodes were in fact from the proposed ‘KRASAKIS’ but were now blended into the new series. He also appeared in Bird’s series ‘The Aphrodite Inheritance’ as Pan the Greek God of music and mischief – but in the guise of the humble barman Charalambous.

In later life he became an acting coach in London. Little is known about his private life and his passing seems to have gone almost unnoticed, but I did have the pleasure of talking to his widow Amanda Gryff on the telephone. I was able to pass on condolences on behalf of the Ian Hendry website, the MJB community, and everyone who enjoyed his work. She greatly appreciated that and I’m sure she took comfort from it. She also said that he would have appreciated it too. He died 3rd June 2017, aged 79.

________________________________________

 

Our heartfelt thoughts and condolences go to the family, friends and fans of Stefan Gryff.

Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Tribute To Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read: ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry

More From Ian Hendry

×

Comments are closed.