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Taso N. Stavrakis

Taso Stavrakis (far right) in The Mask of Zorro
Personal information
Birth dateJuly 12, 1957(age 59)
Place of birthCanton, Ohio, United States
OccupationActor, stunt performer

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Taso Nicholas Stavrakis (born July 12, 1957) is an American film and television actor and stunt performer best known for his appearances in the George A. Romero films Dawn of the Dead, Knightriders, and Day of the Dead. Recruited by his good friend and Carnegie-Mellon University classmate Tom Savini, Stavrakis assisted with stunts and special makeup effects on several seminal 1980s horror productions, including the original Friday the 13th, in which he portrayed "The Prowler" (as the unidentified killer was initially referred to in Victor Miller's screenplay). Romero frequently joked that Stavrakis should be included in the Guinness Book of World Records for having appeared as the most zombies in his Dead series (5 in Dawn and 4 in Day).

Post-college gigs in New York included numerous off-Broadway plays and commercial jobs, including the first human incarnation of the Captain Morgan character for a rum advertisement and Battlestar Galacticas Lucifer character for an automobile commercial.

Offered the opportunity to portray villain Jason Voorhees in Friday the 13th Part 2, Stavrakis turned down the role as his friend Savini had declined to create the film's makeup effects. He instead took an opportunity to create special makeup effects for He Knows You're Alone, an early thriller by Armand Mastroianni (and incidentally Tom Hanks's first feature film), with whom Stavrakis would work again on the 2006 cinematic adaptation of The Celestine Prophecy.

Despite this early emphasis on makeup, Stavrakis eventually gravitated almost exclusively toward stunt work, serving as stunt coordinator on Day of the Dead and the Romero-scripted Creepshow 2 (1987), while his acting work during this period included a brief stint on As the World Turns as Stavros, a Greek interpreter.

A tournament fencer and seasoned equestrian, Stavrakis is a founding member of the Hanlon-Lees Action Theater, an American entertainment company which pioneered the art of theatrical jousting. He also performed for several years with the Big Apple Circus during the mid-1990s as a variety of characters (including "Captain Coney," a Coney Island-inspired superhero), and remains a member of BAC's Clown Care unit, providing entertainment and encouragement to children in hospital.

His more recent film work includes appearances in Martin Campbell's The Mask of Zorro, Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (in a "Tortuga Island" sequence which was edited from the first film but utilized in the sequel) and Michael Mann's 2006 Miami Vice redux, as well as wrangling duties on pictures such as Jackass Number Two and the Seth Green road-trip comedy Sex Drive.

In 2010, Stavrakis returned to his roots, appearing as a featured zombie in the pilot episode of the AMC Network series The Walking Dead.

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