Born on December 15, 1945 in Sydney, Australia, Thaao Penghlis was raised by Greek-born parents. He said that at a young age, people assumed he was well-off because of his appearance and attitude. For his part, he hid the fact that his father was a laborer and his mother was a teacher. He considered this his first attempt at acting, although he did not realize it at that time. Moreover, while he is best known today as an actor, he did not originally intend to enter show business. His Greek heritage is entrenched deeply in his personality as his value for family is very strong and fundamental.
He was interested in art, history, and dreamed of becoming an archaeologist. He started out working with the immigration service as a young diplomat, helping out Greek immigrants seeking Australian citizenship.
He then decided to move to New York City to work for the United Nations. It was there where he met teacher and director, Milton Katselas, who inspired him to pursue an acting career. He quit his job at the United Nations, worked for an antique dealer by the day, and studied acting by night. He eventually became Katselas’ assistant and helped the director set up a studio in Los Angeles.
Penghlis has since appeared in several television films, such as Nero Wolf, Hart to Hart, and Maviola. He also starred in the 1988 remake of Mission Impossible on television. According to him, while many considers his role with the NBC soap Days of our Lives as his first breakthrough in Hollywood as Tony DiMera
, it was actually Jockeys, a production directed by Katselas. He shot to mainstream popularity after being cast in the ABC soap opera General Hospital. After his untimely death in the show, ABC reportedly received fan mail by the thousands asking for Penghlis’ return.