Stamp of the Month: October 2020

Melina Mercouri

The Greek actress, singer and politician Melina Mercouri was born on October 18, 1920 in Athens. She died in New York on March 6, 1994. October 2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of her birthday.
Melina (actually Maria Amalia) Mercouri came from an upper class family. From 1939 she went to drama school and made her debut at the Greek National Theater in Athens in 1944 in an avant-garde play by Alexis Solomos. The reviews were that the actress was “too young, too tall, too blonde, clumsy, talentless”. After appearing in the provinces, she played briefly in Paris before getting her first film role in 1955. She became known to international audiences in 1960 through the film comedy “Never on

Greece 7.3.1995
Sunday”. For this role she received an Acting Award at the Cannes Film Festival and a nomination for an Oscar for best actress. The film song, composed by Manos Hadjidakis, received the Oscar for best film music. There are cover versions of this evergreen by Caterina Valente, Dalida, Lys Assia, Lale Andersen, Nana Mouskouri, Daliah Lavi and Andrea Berg, among others.
After the success of “Never on Sunday” Melina Mercouri starred in other films such as “Phaedra” and “Topkapi” and the lead role in the Broadway musical “Illya Darling”.
During the seven-year military dictatorship in Greece, Melina Mercouri lived in exile in France from 1967 to 1974 and made her criticism of the regime clear on the tours that took her as a singer around the world. After the overthrow of the military junta, she was elected as a member of the Greek parliament in 1977, from 1981 to 1989 and again from 1993 to 1994, Melina Mercouri was Greek Minister of Culture. The establishment of the annual European Capital of Culture goes back to her initiative.
The video shows Melina Mercouri performing on television in 1972 with her hit “Ta Paidia Tou Piraia” (The Children of Piraeus) from the film “Never on Sunday”.