Edit
Melina Mercouri Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (5) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (28) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (5)

Date of Birth 18 October 1920Athens, Greece
Date of Death 6 March 1994Upper East Side, Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA  (complications from lung cancer)
Birth NameMaria Amalia Mercouri
Nickname The last Greek Goddess
Height 5' 6½" (1.69 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Melina Mercouri was born in Athens, Greece on October 18, 1920. An early woman activist, she was elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977. Later Miss Mercouri was to become the first woman to hold a Senior cabinet post "Minister of Culture" in the Greek government. In 1971 she wrote her autobiography titled "I Was Born Greek." Melina wed actor Jules Dassin in 1966 and remained married to him until her death in 1994. Melina Mercouri died of lung cancer in New York City, on March 6, 1994.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: RHall96319@aol.com

When she starred in her first film Stella (1955), under the direction of Mihalis Kakogiannis, she was 35 years of age. Her real stardom came under the direction of her husband Jules Dassin and the film Never on Sunday (1960) (Never on Sunday (1960))5 years later, when she was 40 years old. The most famous Greek producer Filopoimin Finos had never accepted her as a film star, because of her big mouth. So, when he rejected the opportunity to co-produce Never On Sunday, he lost the big opportunity to expand in the international market. Finos had also rejected her for the main role of Lily of the Harbor (1952), later played by Eleni Hatziargyri, a Karolous Koun student, as Melina was. Her film that came after Never On Sunday, Phaedra (1962) was a modern adaption of Euripides' classic tragedy named "Ippolytos".Anthony Perkins and 'Phaedra (1962)' were her costars, Mikis Theodorakis wrote the excellent music, Jules Dassin directed her once more. Although the film flopped miserably in USA it was a big hit in many European countries, and it was the reason that Anthony Perkins become a superstar in Europe. She co-starred with the excellent Ellen Burstyn in Jules Dassin's Kravgi gynaikon (1978), but as Melina's biography by Frida Bioumpi notes Melina did not enjoy her collaboration with the Oscar winner actress. She was nominated for an Oscar for Never on Sunday, but it was Elizabeth Taylor's year in Hollywood. She won the Cannes Prize, a Prize she happily shared with the famous Jeanne Moreau. She was also nominated for a Cannes prize in 1955 in Cacoyiannis' Stella. She did not win, as no prize was given to an actress that year. But Isa Miranda one of the judges gave her one prize, named Isa Miranda prize. She asked that her theatrical dressing room in the Greek National Theatrical Museum will be set next to that of her good friend and actress Ellie Lambeti, who had died from cancer few years earlier than Melina.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Anonymous

Spouse (2)

Jules Dassin (18 May 1966 - 6 March 1994) (her death)
Panos Harokopos (1941 - 1962) (divorced)

Trivia (28)

Born 8am EET
She was the step-mother of the famous French singer Joe Dassin.
Received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award in 1991.
Melina Mercouri was personal friend of the Prime Minister of Greece Andreas Papandreou, the Nobel prize winner poet Odysseas Elytis, the Oscar Winning composer Manos Hatzidakis, the famous authors Terence McNally and Vasilis Vasilikos. She also admired very much the leader of the Conservative party, Konstantinos Karamanlis.
Melina had beside her bed the photograph of her great friend Anthony Perkins, and co-star in Phaedra (1962). She said that the only problem that the famous star had, was his taste for milk.
Melina died from complications from lung cancer at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, NYC. She was hospitalized in early February 1994 and underwent surgery on February 23 to remove cancerous tissue, but her conditioned deteriorated on March 5 because of an infection.
Another festival was presented in Greece in 2002 honoring the couple Melina Mercouri-Jules Dassin, and including all favorites movies of the two stars, like Never on Sunday (1960), Topkapi (1964), etc.
Melina met Jules Dassin in Cannes during the screening of her first film Stella (1955).
Melina, as a Minister of Culture, was one of the creators of the European Capital of Culture insitution, which recognizes a city of Europe as the centre of many cultural festivities, every 4 years
All the records were prohibited by the military dictatorship in Greece and were very popular after the dictatorship was gone. Melina was also heard in LPs by Manos Hatzidakis, with music from her films Stella (1955), Never on Sunday (1960), Topkapi (1964), and in Mikis Theodorakis's Phaedra (1962) where she was singing with her co-star Anthony Perkins.
During the seven years of her exile in France, 1967-1974, Melina Mercouri recorded some highly popular records for UNIVERSAL, named 'Melina Mercouri', 'L oeillet rouge', 'si Melina m etait contee', 'Je suis Grecque' including famous Greek and French songs.
The studio wanted the team of 'R Dassin'-Mercouri to create a sequel to Never on Sunday (1960) named "Illya goes to New York", but both the actress and the director refused and made Phaedra (1962), a commercial flop.
Melina claimed that her lucky number was 18, because Dassin was born on 18th of December, her grandfather, the mayor of Athens, Spyros Merkouris was born on 18th of June, and she met Jules Dassin in Cannes on May 18th 1955.
Melina's and Jules Dassin's film Topkapi (1964) was the inspiration for the TV series Mission: Impossible (1996), which was produced by the production company Desilu owned by Lucille Ball, and it was even mentioned in the film Mission: Impossible (1996) starring Tom Cruise.
Melina's greatest dream as a politician was the return of the marbles of the Parthenon, known as the Elgin marbles, back in Greece. Now they are in the British Museum.
When she was asked who she would like to be if she was not Melina Mercouri, she answered that she wanted to be either Greta Garbo or Dolores Ibárruri.
In 1953, Ellie Lambeti gave to Melina Mercouri the award "Marika Kotopouli" for best female performance in the theater.
Melina was the stepmother of three children, all by Jules Dassin. The names of the children are Julie Dassin, Richelle and Joe Dassin, who was a famous French singer, but died very young.
Melina's father was a member of Parliament from the age of 22, and her Grandfather was Mayor of Athens
Melina was interred at 1st Cemetery of Athens, Greece, near to her grandfather and Mayor of Athens, Spyros Merkouris.
Was nominated for Broadway's 1968 Tony Award as Best Actress (Musical) for "Illya, Darling," a musicalization of the film Never on Sunday (1960) in which she played the same role.
A member of the Pan-Hellenic Socialist movement.
Elected to the Greek Parliament in 1977.
Served as Greece's Minister of Culture from 1981 to 1990.
Ran for mayor of Athens in 1990, but was defeated.
On a almost unknown record LP with music by Yannis Markopoulos for the even less known movie "L'Anniversaire" by the in 2007 deceased French filmmaker Pierre Jourdan (sleeve notion "Une production TF1 - 1982 EMI Greece - Pathé Marconi - EMI", Melina Mercouri performs on two tracks: on side 1 track 6 (3'22) titled "La Paix" (The Peace), she recites a beautiful poem by Yannis Ritsos, and on side 2 track 1 (3'55) titled "Giortazo 18 Octovri" (L'Anniversaire), Melina sings on lyrics by L. Papadopoulos.
Suffered from claustrophobia.
She and Jules Dassin lived together for nearly 10 years before marrying in 1966.

Personal Quotes (1)

"I was born Greek and I would die Greek. Mr. Pattakos was born a dictator and he will die as a dictator." Her reply to the fact that the Military dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974) in Greece had proclaimed that she was no longer a Greek citizen.

See also

Other Works | Publicity Listings | Official Sites | Contact Info

Contribute to This Page