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The Real (?) Story Of Anthony Quinn Beach

Who do you believe?

RHODES, Greece- Outside of Rhodes, the story goes that the actor Anthony Quinn loved Greece so much that he tried to buy the bay where part of the film, The Guns of Navarone, was shot. In the film, the Mexican American played Zorba the Greek — apparently, people weren’t enlightened enough to get uppity about actors portraying characters who weren’t an exact ethnic match back then.

But anyway, Quinn claimed that he was going to turn the bay into “an international centre for artists and film-makers” and the local government annulled his purchase of the property and instead gifted it to him for a symbolic sum in appreciation for his efforts at portraying their seaside home so favorably in the international spotlight. The beach was named after him and everything looked as if it would go as smoothly as sun rising over the bay.

But it is said that Quinn never received the deeds — something which he was reputedly extremely bitter about it for the rest of his life, claiming that he would never to go to Rhodes again … as though he was screwed over. His widow is apparently still fighting for rights to the property, even getting her buddy Hillary Clinton to do her bidding while on an official visit to Greece when she was Secretary of State.

“That was wrong because Quinn made Rhodes famous. He put this island on the map and the beach was practically gifted to him in recognition of that,” ran a quote about the situation in The Guardian.

However, the people who live near Anthony Quinn Bay have a very different story. According to them, the local government gave Quinn the property because the actor claimed that he was going to do something with it that would benefit the local people. But as soon as the property was handed over, Quinn erected a fence up in front of the road that led down into the bay and declared it his own private beach — an island enclave for rich Hollywood actors. Both locals and tourists were prohibited from entering, and the local government was left looking foolish.

A decade passed with locals getting more and more upset about the actor who had so deftly taken advantage of the naive local government for his own interests, and eventually a movement arose to get the beach back for the people of Rhodes.

They were successful. The fence was knocked down and the beach was reopened up to the public, something which the people taking care of the place today say they are very pleased with. While the place retained the name “Anthony Quinn Beach,” the locals seem to say it with a hint of irony.

On the ground, it was clear why the actor would want the place. It met pretty much anyone’s definition of paradise: a beach hugged by two rocky hills that protruded out to sea, flanking water that was bluer than a hobo’s swan song. It was almost difficult to be in a place that looked so perfect — the frustration of the senses having their input outrightly rejected by the intellect.

I hung out there for a while with my family. Petra somehow managed to fall off a rock and into the water fully clothed and with her coat on. She then had to lay in the sun like a seal to dry off. Rivka ran around in the surf. Hannah and I laughed at a tree that had women’s underwear hanging all over it.

Just before driving out of the bay I stopped for a moment at the place where Quinn’s gate once stood. The iron frame was left behind, perhaps as a reminder.

Filed under: Beaches, Greece, Travel Diary

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 89 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3451 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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