Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Allen Sferios

Dry cleaner Allen Sferios left a mark on local theater

Times Staff Writer

ST. PETE BEACH — In dozens of local theater productions, Allen Sferios paced the stage with the assurance of the seasoned professional actor, grapefruit-sized biceps flexing with every inward gesture.

At Gulf Beach Cleaners, the business his family had owned since 1937, Mr. Sferios moved with the same authority. He rewove holes in clothing, removed spots and scrubbed the floors on his hands and knees.

In either arena, Mr. Sferios regarded no detail as unimportant. That relentlessness and talent led to accomplishment.

"I liken his temperament to that of a Brando type — the fierce acting, the powerful enunciation and mixing seriousness with humor," said former New York Times editor Michael Sisak, a longtime friend.

As a young man, Mr. Sferios acted in off-Broadway productions and for television shows, including Naked City and The Defenders.

Nearly every weekday, he tooled down Gulf Boulevard to the Pelican Diner, the front license plate reading "PHOOEY."

He had his own stool, second from the entrance.

He continued his theater work, acting and directing in dozens of local productions, particularly with what is now known as St. Petersburg City Theatre. Even in community theater, Mr. Sferios expected total commitment, and reacted viscerally when he did not get it.

"He could throw a chair across a room," said Corinne Broskette, the executive director of Venue Theatre and Actors Studio. "But those of us who knew him knew it was just because he was frustrated."

Mr. Sferios was born in Warren, Ohio, to Greek immigrants. He later used his knowledge of Greek as an Army translator at the Pentagon. After performing on stage at what is now St. Petersburg College, he moved to New York, where he lifted weights and studied under legendary drama teacher Uta Hagen. In the 1960s, he auditioned for the role in The Graduate that launched Dustin Hoffman's career.

"He said, 'I was better than him, but damn it, he knew more people,' " recalled Manny Sferios, his son.

Mr. Sferios married Elizabeth, a ballet dancer, and moved to St. Pete Beach in 1964. He took over the cleaning business that had been run by his brother, former St. Pete Beach vice mayor Emanuel Sferios.

He maintained bonds of loyalty for decades, doing the dry cleaning for St. Petersburg City Theatre and military personnel for free.

That generosity extended to actors who needed a place to stay and dozens of stray cats, all of whom were welcomed in or outside his St. Pete Beach home.

Mr. Sferios stopped his theater work only in the last couple of years, as his cognition and motor skills declined due to Lewy body disease. He died April 20 under hospice care. Mr. Sferios was 74.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at ameacham@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2248.

.Biography

Allen Sferios

Born: Dec. 3, 1937

Died: April 20, 2012

Survivors: Son, Manny Sferios; daughter, Stathia Sferios.

Dry cleaner Allen Sferios left a mark on local theater 04/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 26, 2012 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Man found dead in Dunedin canal identified as missing 63-year-old

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies on Tuesday identified the man found floating in a Dunedin canal as the man who was reported missing last week.

    Charles P. Morris, 63, was found dead in a canal in Dunedin behind Cedar Creek Mobile Home Park, at 605 Michigan Blvd. around 3:48 p.m. Monday. He was reported missing June 21 after he was last seen leaving his home the night before to walk his dog. [ Courtesy of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office]
  2. A Time magazine with Trump on the cover hangs in his golf clubs. It's fake

    National

    The framed copy of Time magazine was hung up in at least four of President Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland. Filling the entire cover was a photo of Donald Trump.

    A framed copy of Time magazine, dated March 1, 2009, that hangs in at least four of President Donald Trump's golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, is fake. There was no March 1, 2009, issue of Time. The real March 2, 2009, issue of Time featured actor Kate Winslet on the cover. But the issue makes no mention of Trump. [Left, Time; right, Angel Valentin for the Washington Post]
  3. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid

    Editorials

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  4. Vince Young takes shot at Bucs' Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Blogs

    Former NFL quarterback Vince Young, out of the league since 2011 and complaining about not getting more opportunities to prolong his career, took a shot at new Bucs backup Ryan Fitzpatrick in a story posted at …

    Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who signed with the Bucs to be Jameis Winston's backup this fall, has played for six other NFL teams in his 12 seasons in the league.
  5. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO

    Editorials

    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …