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Biography
Vibrant, intensely free-spirited Greek actress Melina Mercouri was the daughter of a prominent Athenian politician. Much against the desires of her parents, she became an actress in her teens, enrolling in the National Theater of Greece and entering films in 1955. In 1960 she gained international stardom (and a shelf full of industry awards) for her portrayal of a vivacious Piraeus prostitute in Never on Sunday; the film was directed by American expatriate Jules Dassin, who helmed several subsequent Mercouri films (Topkapi was the best) and in 1966 became her second husband. When Greece was overtaken by a military junta in 1966, Mercouri ardently protested this affront to the world's oldest democracy. As a result, her citizenship was revoked, and from 1967 through 1974 she was denied re-entry into her native country. In 1977, she made a triumphant return to her former home turf glory when she was elected to the Greek Parliament. From 1981 through 1985, Mercouri served as Greece's Minister of Culture and Sciences, and from 1985 until 1989 was her country's Minister of Culture, Youth, and Sports. She was also one of the founders of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement. In the U.S., Melina Mercouri made her Broadway debut in the 1965 musical version of Never on Sunday, Illya Darling.

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