Greek: Μελινα Μερκουρι
Who: Melina Mercouri was an actress, singer, fighter of the resistance movement, and politician.
Born: October 18, 1920 in Athens
Died: March 6, 1994 (73 years old)
Melina Mercouri is considered one of the greatest female figures of Greece. Mercouri has appeared in numerous movies receiving international fame with Never on a Sunday, Phaedra, Topkapi and Promise at Dawn. She was a big activist during the 1967-1974 Greek military Junta, speaking out about the dicatatorship that had taken over Greece. She was both a lover of Democracy and freedom. After the dictators of Greece took away her citizenship she was quoted as saying: “I was born a Greek and I will die a Greek. Mr. Pattakos was born a fascist and he will die a fascist”.
In 1974, after the fall of the Junta, Mercouri was one of the founding members of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK). She eventually was elected to the Hellenic Parliament in 1977 and when the PASOK party won the elections in 1981 she was appointed Minister for Culture of Greece. She was the founder of the European Capital of Culture program, which was established by the European Union in 1985. This program helps to promote the culture of a city, bring it economic benefit and raise the profile of a city on an international scale.
She was a strong supporter of the Greek culture, and offered free access to museums and archeological sites to Greek citizens. She was also a big advocate for the return of the Parthenon marbles to Athens from the British Museum. These marbles were stolen by Lord Elgin, at the time the British ambassador to Constantinople, in the 19th century. However, due to the small space that the current museum had, there was no room to house these marbles. Therefore Mercouri had begun the procedures for the construction of a new Acropolis Museum that would be built. Unfortunately Mercouri passed away in 1994, 15 years before the new Acropolis Museum would finally open its’ doors.