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Maria Amalia Mercouri (Greek: Μαρία Αμαλία Μερκούρη; 31 October 1920 – 6 March 1994), known professionally as Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
(Μελίνα Μερκούρη), was a Greek actress, singer and politician.

Contents

1 Early life 2 Acting career

2.1 Early years on stage 2.2 International success 2.3 Filmography

3 As singer 4 Political career

4.1 Activism
Activism
against the Greek junta 4.2 Involvement in politics 4.3 Minister for Culture: 1981–1989 4.4 Minister for Culture: 1993–1994

5 Death 6 Gallery 7 References 8 External links

Early life[edit] Mercouri was born in 1920 to a former cavalry officer and member of the Greek parliament, Stamatis Mercouris, and his wife, Eirini Lappa. When she completed her secondary education, she attended the National Theatre's Drama School, graduating in 1944. Mercouri's first husband was a wealthy landowner, Panos Harokopos; the couple divorced in 1962. As an actress, Mercouri made her film debut in Stella (1955) and met international success with her performances in Never on Sunday
Never on Sunday
(1960, with future husband Jules Dassin), Phaedra, Topkapi, and Promise at Dawn. She won the award for Best Actress
Actress
at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival. She was nominated for an Academy Award, a Tony Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and two BAFTA Awards. A political activist during the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, Mercouri became a member of the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
in 1977 and became the first female Minister for Culture of Greece
Greece
in 1981. In 1983, Mercouri proposed the programme of the European Capital of Culture, which was established by the European Union
European Union
in 1985. Mercouri was a strong advocate for the return to Athens
Athens
of the Parthenon
Parthenon
Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon, and are now displayed in the British Museum
British Museum
in London.[1] Acting career[edit] Early years on stage[edit] After her graduation, Mercouri joined the National Theatre of Greece and played the role of Electra
Electra
in Eugene O'Neill's play Mourning Becomes Electra
Electra
in 1945. In 1949, she had her first major success in the theatre playing Blanche DuBois
Blanche DuBois
in A Streetcar Named Desire, written by Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
and staged by Karolos Koun's Art Theatre. Until 1950, she also worked in the same theatre in other plays by Aldous Huxley, Arthur Miller
Arthur Miller
and André Roussin. Mercouri then moved to Paris, where she appeared in boulevard plays by Jacques Deval and Marcel Achard, and met famous French playwrights and novelists such as Jean Cocteau, Jean-Paul Sartre, Colette
Colette
and Françoise Sagan. In 1953, Mercouri received the Marika Kotopouli Prize. Mercouri returned to Greece
Greece
in 1955. At the Kotopouli-Rex Theatre, Mercouri starred in Macbeth
Macbeth
by William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
and L'Alouette by Jean Anouilh.[citation needed] International success[edit]

Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
in Phaedra, 1962

Mercouri's first movie was the Greek language
Greek language
film Stella (1955), directed by Zorba the Greek
Zorba the Greek
director Michael Cacoyannis. The film received special praise at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, where she met American film director Jules Dassin, with whom she would share not only her career but also her life. Their first professional pairing was 1957's He Who Must Die. Other films by Dassin and featuring Mercouri followed, such as The Law (1959). Mercouri became well-known to international audiences when she starred in Never on Sunday
Never on Sunday
(1960), in which Dassin was the director and co-star. For this film, she earned the Best Actress
Actress
Award at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actress
Actress
and the BAFTA Award for Best Actress
Actress
in a Leading Role.[2] After her first major international success, Mercouri went on to star in Phaedra (1962), for which she was nominated again for the BAFTA Award and the Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
Actress
in Motion Picture Drama. The recognition of her acting talent did not stop though, as her role in Topkapi (1964) granted her one more nomination, this time for the Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
Actress
in Motion Picture Musical or Comedy. Mercouri worked with such directors as Joseph Losey, Vittorio De Sica, Ronald Neame, Carl Foreman, Norman Jewison, and starred in films like Spanish language
Spanish language
The Uninhibited by Juan Antonio Bardem. Mercouri continued her stage career in the Greek production of Tennessee Williams's Sweet Bird of Youth
Sweet Bird of Youth
(1960), under the direction of Karolos Koun. In 1967, she played the leading role in Illya Darling (from 11 April 1967 to 13 January 1968) on Broadway,[3] for which she was nominated for the Tony Award
Tony Award
for Best Performance by a Leading Actress
Actress
in a Musical. Mercouri's performance in Promise at Dawn
Promise at Dawn
(1970) earned her another Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
nomination. On 8 October 1962,[4] Mercouri appeared on the American TV show What's My Line. After the panel were blindfolded, a strange man appeared on-stage and proclaimed himself "the second mystery guest". Host John Charles Daly quickly called for "the relieving unit" and said "schedule two" (a coded phrase used on live broadcasts in case of an emergency: the cameras are turned to a neutral position and the sound is cut off). The man talked a bit about a dating service he apparently owned before being hustled off the stage by announcer Johnny Olson
Johnny Olson
and executive producer Gil Fates. Daly apologized to the panel and the program continued.[5] Mercouri concentrated on her stage career for the following years, playing in the Greek productions of The Threepenny Opera
The Threepenny Opera
and, for a second time, Sweet Bird of Youth, in addition to the ancient Greek tragedies Medea and Oresteia. She retired from film acting in 1978, when she played in her last film, A Dream of Passion, directed by her husband, Jules Dassin. Mercouri's last performance on stage was in the opera Pylades at the Athens
Athens
Concert Hall in 1992, portraying Clytemnestra. Filmography[edit]

Year Film Role Notes

1955 Stella Stella Nominated - Cannes Film Festival Best Actress
Actress
Award

1957 He Who Must Die Katerina

1958 The Gypsy and the Gentleman Belle

1959 The Law Donna Lucrezia

1960 Never on Sunday Ilya Won - Cannes Film Festival Best Actress
Actress
Award- Won - NYFCC Award for Best Actress Nominated — Academy Award
Academy Award
for Best Actress Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress

1961 The Last Judgment Foreign lady

Long Live Henry IV... Long Live Love Marie de Médicis

1962 Phaedra Phaedra Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Actress Nominated — Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
Actress
– Motion Picture Drama

1963 The Victors Magda

1964 Topkapi Elizabeth Lipp Nominated — Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
Actress
– Motion Picture Musical or Comedy

1965 The Uninhibited Jenny

1966 A Man Could Get Killed Aurora

10:30 P.M. Summer Maria

1969 Gaily, Gaily Lil

1970 Promise at Dawn Nina Kacew Nominated — Golden Globe Award
Golden Globe Award
for Best Actress
Actress
– Motion Picture Drama

1974 The Rehearsal Belle

1975 Once Is Not Enough Karla

1975 Kipros Herself

1977 Nasty Habits Sister Gertrude

1978 A Dream of Passion Maya

1981 Gynaikes stin exoria Narrator (final role)

As singer[edit]

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One of her first songs was by Manos Hadjidakis
Manos Hadjidakis
and Nikos Gatsos. It was titled Hartino to Fengaraki ("Papermoon") and was a part of the Greek production of A Streetcar Named Desire in 1949, in which she starred as Blanche DuBois. The first official recording of this, now-legendary song was made by Nana Mouskouri
Nana Mouskouri
in 1960, although the company Sirius, created by Manos Hadjidakis, issued, in 2004, a recording Melina had made for French television during the 1960s. Her recordings of "Athenes, ma Ville", a collaboration with Vangelis, and "Melinaki", were popular in France. Her recording of "Feggari mou, Agapi mou" (Phaedra) was quite popular and was later covered by Marinella
Marinella
in 1965. Political career[edit] Activism
Activism
against the Greek junta[edit] At the time of the coup d'état in Greece
Greece
by a group of colonels of the Greek military on 21 April 1967, she was in the United States, playing in Illya Darling. She immediately joined the struggle against the Greek Military Junta and started an international campaign, travelling all over the world to inform the public and contribute to the isolation and fall of the colonels. As a result, the dictatorial regime revoked her Greek citizenship and confiscated her property.[6] When her citizenship was taken away, she said: "I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Mr. Pattakos (the then Minister of the Interior of the junta who made these decisions against her) was born a fascist and he will die a fascist".[7][8][9][10][11] While in London
London
she worked with Amalia Fleming and Helen Vlachos of Kathimerini
Kathimerini
against the junta of the colonels.[12] Involvement in politics[edit]

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After the fall of the Junta and during the metapolitefsi in 1974, Mercouri settled in Greece
Greece
and was one of the founding members of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
(PASOK), a centre-left political party. She was a member of the party's Central Committee and a rapporteur for the Culture Section, while being involved in the women's movement as well. In the Greek legislative elections of 1974, she was a PASOK candidate in the Piraeus B constituency, but the 7,500 votes were not enough to secure a seat for her in the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
(she needed 33 more votes), something that came true in the elections of 1977, in which she obtained the highest number of votes in the whole of Greece.[citation needed] Minister for Culture: 1981–1989[edit]

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Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
(1985)

When PASOK won the elections of 1981, Mercouri was appointed Minister for Culture of Greece, being the first female in that post. She would serve in that position for two terms until 1989, when PASOK lost the elections and New Democracy formed a cabinet. As Minister for Culture, Mercouri took advantage of her fame abroad and got in contact with great European leaders in order to promote Greece. She strongly advocated the return to Athens
Athens
of the Parthenon
Parthenon
Marbles, that were removed from Parthenon
Parthenon
and other buildings on the Acropolis of Athens by Thomas Bruce, 7th Earl of Elgin, and are now part of the British Museum collection in London. In anticipation of the return of the marbles, she held an international competition for the construction of the New Acropolis Museum, designated to display them and finally established in 2008.[1] One of her greatest achievements was the establishment of the institution of the European Capital of Culture
European Capital of Culture
within the framework of cultural policy of the European Union, that she had conceived and proposed in 1983, with Athens
Athens
inaugurating this institution being the first title-holder in 1985, while she was a devoted supporter of the Athens
Athens
bid to host the Centennial Olympic Games. In 1983, during the first Greek presidency of the Council of the European Union, Mercouri invited the Ministers for Culture of the other nine member states of the European Union
European Union
at Zappeion, in order to increase the people's cultural awareness, since there was not any reference to cultural questions in the Treaty of Rome, which led to the establishment of formal sessions between the Ministers of Culture of the European Union. During the second presidency of Greece
Greece
in 1988, she supported the cooperation between Eastern Europe
Eastern Europe
and the European Union, which was finally implemented one year later with the celebration of the Month of Culture in Eastern countries.[citation needed] Mercouri commissioned a study for the integration of all the archaeological sites of Athens
Athens
to create a traffic-free archaeological park to promote the Greek culture. She introduced free access to museums and archaeological sites for Greek citizens, organized a series of exhibitions of Greek cultural heritage and modern Greek art worldwide, supported the restoration of buildings of special architectural interest and the completion of the Athens
Athens
Concert Hall, backed the project of the Museum of Byzantine culture
Museum of Byzantine culture
in Thessaloniki and established annual literary pizes.[citation needed] Minister for Culture: 1993–1994[edit]

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In the legislative elections of November 1989, PASOK lost and Mercouri was elected a member of the Hellenic Parliament
Hellenic Parliament
and remained a member of the party's Executive Bureau. In 1990, she was a candidate for Mayor of Athens
Athens
but she was defeated by Antonis Tritsis. After PASOK's win in the election of 1993, she was back at the Ministry for Culture.[13] Her major goals in this second term in office were: to create a cultural park in the Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
in order to protect and enhance the environment and civilization of the Aegean Islands, and to link culture with education at all education levels, introducing a system of post-training of teachers. Death[edit] Mercouri died on 6 March 1994 at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, from lung cancer.[14] She was survived by her husband, Jules Dassin. She had no children. She received a state funeral with Prime Minister's honors at the First Cemetery of Athens four days later. The Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
Foundation was founded by her widower. After her death, UNESCO established the ‘Melina Mercouri International Prize for the Safeguarding and Management of Cultural Landscapes (UNESCO-Greece)' which rewards outstanding examples of action to safeguard and enhance the world's major cultural landscapes.[13][15] Gallery[edit]

Athens
Athens
Metro Acropolis station. Melina's photograph on the right.

Bust of Melina Mercouri, Athens

References[edit]

^ a b Casey, Christopher (October 30, 2008). ""Grecian Grandeurs and the Rude Wasting of Old Time": Britain, the Elgin Marbles, and Post-Revolutionary Hellenism". Foundations. Volume III, Number 1. Archived from the original on May 13, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-25.  ^ Profile, bafta.org; accessed 6 December 2014. ^ Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
at the Internet Broadway Database ^ What's My Line
What's My Line
incident of 8 October 1962; accessed 6 December 2014. ^ Video on YouTube ^ Newsweek. Newsweek. 1967. Retrieved 17 March 2013. Greek word for honey (rneli), but there was acid in her throaty voice last week as vibrant Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
condemned Brig. Gen. Stylianos Pattakos, strong man of the Greek revolutionary junta which had just stripped her of citizenship and property ... Mr. Pattakos was born a Fascist; he will die a Fascist", said the passionate performer who until the recent coup did as ...  ^ Newsweek. Newsweek, Incorporated. 1967. Retrieved 17 March 2013. "I was born a Greek; I will die a Creek. Mr. Pattakos was born a Fascist; he will die a Fascist", said the passionate performer who until the recent coup did as much to spur Creek tourism as all the ancient ruins combined. ...  ^ Books and Bookmen. Hansom Books. 1971. Retrieved 17 March 2013. When asked if she had any comment on this she replied: 'I was born Greek. I shall die Greek. Mr Pattakos was born a fascist. He will die a fascist.  ^ Labor Today. National Center for Trade Union Action and Democracy. Retrieved 17 March 2013. No wonder the talented actress Melina Mercouri, after being stripped of her Greek citizenship in absentia, said of junta member Colonel Pattakos : "I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Pattakos was born a Fascist and will die a Fascist.  ^ Helen Vlachos (1971). Free Greek voices: a political anthology. (10 Gayfere St., SWIP 3HN), Doric Publications Ltd. Retrieved 17 March 2013. He repeated it. And my answer came like water from a fountain: 'I was born a Greek, I will die a Greek; Pattakos was born Fascist, he will die Fascist . . .' "And now what will happen, Melina?" I am asked. Now there will be a trial at some ...  ^ Balkania. Balkania Publishing Company. 1967. Retrieved 17 March 2013. ... Patakos was born a fascist and will die a fascist," Miss Mercouri said at a press conference she called shortly after hearing that her citizenship had been ...  ^ RICHARD CLOGG (17 October 1995). "Obituary: Helen Vlachos". The Independent. Retrieved 15 March 2013.  ^ a b Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
profile, Hellenic Ministry of Culture website; accessed 6 December 2014. ^ Melina Mercouri, Actress
Actress
and Politician, Is Dead ^ Foundation Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
(in Greek) (in English)

External links[edit]

Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
on IMDb Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
at the Internet Broadway Database
Internet Broadway Database
Foundation Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
(in Greek) (in English) Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
at The New York Times
The New York Times
Movies

Political offices

Preceded by Andreas Andrianopoulos Minister for Culture of Greece 1981–1989 Succeeded by Georgios Mylonas

Preceded by Dora Bakoyannis Minister for Culture of Greece 1993–1994 Succeeded by Thanos Mikroutsikos

v t e

Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actress

1946–1975

Michèle Morgan
Michèle Morgan
(1946) Isa Miranda
Isa Miranda
(1949) Bette Davis
Bette Davis
(1951) Lee Grant
Lee Grant
(1952) Shirley Booth
Shirley Booth
(1953) cast of Bolshaya Semya (1955) Susan Hayward
Susan Hayward
(1956) Giulietta Masina
Giulietta Masina
(1957) Bibi Andersson
Bibi Andersson
/ Eva Dahlbeck
Eva Dahlbeck
/ Barbro Hiort af Ornäs / Ingrid Thulin (1958) Simone Signoret
Simone Signoret
(1959) Melina Mercouri
Melina Mercouri
/ Jeanne Moreau
Jeanne Moreau
(1960) Sophia Loren
Sophia Loren
(1961) Katharine Hepburn
Katharine Hepburn
/ Rita Tushingham
Rita Tushingham
(1962) Marina Vlady
Marina Vlady
(1963) Anne Bancroft
Anne Bancroft
/ Barbara Barrie
Barbara Barrie
(1964) Samantha Eggar
Samantha Eggar
(1965) Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
(1966) Pia Degermark
Pia Degermark
(1967) Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
(1969) Ottavia Piccolo
Ottavia Piccolo
(1970) Kitty Winn (1971) Susannah York
Susannah York
(1972) Joanne Woodward
Joanne Woodward
(1973) Marie-José Nat
Marie-José Nat
(1974) Valerie Perrine
Valerie Perrine
(1975)

1976–2000

Dominique Sanda
Dominique Sanda
/ Mari Törőcsik
Mari Törőcsik
(1976) Shelley Duvall
Shelley Duvall
/ Monique Mercure (1977) Jill Clayburgh
Jill Clayburgh
/ Isabelle Huppert
Isabelle Huppert
(1978) Sally Field
Sally Field
(1979) Anouk Aimée
Anouk Aimée
(1980) Isabelle Adjani
Isabelle Adjani
(1981) Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieślak
Jadwiga Jankowska-Cieślak
(1982) Hanna Schygulla
Hanna Schygulla
(1983) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(1984) Norma Aleandro
Norma Aleandro
/ Cher
Cher
(1985) Barbara Sukowa
Barbara Sukowa
/ Fernanda Torres
Fernanda Torres
(1986) Barbara Hershey
Barbara Hershey
(1987) Barbara Hershey
Barbara Hershey
/ Jodhi May / Linda Mvusi
Linda Mvusi
(1988) Meryl Streep
Meryl Streep
(1989) Krystyna Janda
Krystyna Janda
(1990) Irène Jacob
Irène Jacob
(1991) Pernilla August
Pernilla August
(1992) Holly Hunter
Holly Hunter
(1993) Virna Lisi
Virna Lisi
(1994) Helen Mirren
Helen Mirren
(1995) Brenda Blethyn
Brenda Blethyn
(1996) Kathy Burke (1997) Élodie Bouchez
Élodie Bouchez
/ Natacha Régnier
Natacha Régnier
(1998) Séverine Caneele
Séverine Caneele
/ Émilie Dequenne
Émilie Dequenne
(1999) Björk
Björk
(2000)

2001–present

Isabelle Huppert
Isabelle Huppert
(2001) Kati Outinen (2002) Marie-Josée Croze
Marie-Josée Croze
(2003) Maggie Cheung
Maggie Cheung
(2004) Hana Laszlo
Hana Laszlo
(2005) Penélope Cruz
Penélope Cruz
/ Carmen Maura
Carmen Maura
/ Lola Dueñas
Lola Dueñas
/ Chus Lampreave
Chus Lampreave
/ Blanca Portillo / Yohana Cobo
Yohana Cobo
(2006) Jeon Do-yeon
Jeon Do-yeon
(2007) Sandra Corveloni (2008) Charlotte Gainsbourg
Charlotte Gainsbourg
(2009) Juliette Binoche
Juliette Binoche
(2010) Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst
(2011) Cristina Flutur / Cosmina Stratan (2012) Bérénice Bejo
Bérénice Bejo
(2013) Julianne Moore
Julianne Moore
(2014) Emmanuelle Bercot
Emmanuelle Bercot
/ Rooney Mara
Rooney Mara
(2015) Jaclyn Jose (2016) Diane Kruger
Diane Kruger
(2017)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 11062300 LCCN: n81040605 ISNI: 0000 0001 1821 4099 GND: 118581031 SELIBR: 403939 SUDOC: 030317851 BNF: cb12175843r (data) BIBSYS: 90754903 MusicBrainz: bdb70d5d-ded0-4b06-a9d3-8b9e9d0f932d NLA: 35347338 NDL: 00449783 NKC: jo2002102175 BNE: XX1174665 SN

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