Maria Amalia “Melina” Mercouri was a Greek actress, singer, and politician. She received an Oscar nomination and won a Cannes Film Festival Award for her performance in the 1960 film Never on Sunday. Mercouri was also nominated for three Golden Globes and two BAFTA Awards in her acting career.
As a politician, she was a member of the PASOK and the Hellenic Parliament. In October 1981, Mercouri became the first female Minister of Culture and Sports.
Melina Mercouri was born in Athens on 18 October 1920 and died in New York on 6 March 1994. She was a political activist during the Greek military junta of 1967-1974 and became a member of the Hellenic Parliament in 1977 and the first female Minister for Culture of Greece in 1981. Mercouri was the person who, in 1983, conceived and proposed the programme of the European Capital of Culture, which has been established by the European Union since 1985.
She was a strong advocate for the return to Athens of the Parthenon Marbles, which were removed from the Parthenon, and are now displayed in the British Museum.
“I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek.
Those bastards were born fascists and they will die fascists”.
Activism against the Greek junta
At the time of the coup d’état in 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, traveling 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.
When her citizenship was taken away, she said: “I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Those bastards were born fascists and they will die fascists”.
While in London she worked with Amalia Fleming and Helen Vlachos of Kathimerini against the junta of the colonels.