Melina Mercouri(Athens, Greece, October 18, 1920 – New York City, March 6, 1994) was a famous Greek actress, singer, and political activist.
Her first film, the Greek film Stella (1955), was directed by Michael Cacoyannis, the director of Zorba the Greek, and brought her to Cannes, where it was nominated for the Golden Palm. It did not win the prize, but she met there the man of her life, director Jules Dassin. Dassin and Mercouri lived together for the rest of her life. They had no children.
Melina became well-known to international audiences when she starred in the 1960 film Never on Sunday, directed by Jules Dassin. (The couple collaborated on its 1967 musical stage adaptation, Illya Darling, for which she received a Tony Award nomination, as well.) Nominated for an Academy Award for Never on Sunday, she went on to star in such films as Topkapi, Phaedra, and Gaily, Gaily.
Mercouri retired from film acting in 1978. Her last film, A Dream of Passion, was directed, as were most of her films, by her husband Jules Dassin. Her co-star in the film was Ellen Burstyn. In 1980, she starred in the Greek production of Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams, in the lead role, which had been originated on Broadway by Geraldine Page.