I call her Melina the Muse because there are few women in the world who have managed to exhibit so much passion, energy, talent, bravery and ingenuity in one lifetime. I mean, the woman was an internationally renowned actress, singer, political activist, exile and politician, all in one lifetime. Certainly a force to be reckoned with, and she did it all while maintaining an exquisite sense of style and grace. You may recognize her from this famous scene (and song, ‘Ta Paidia Tou Peirea” – one which has been covered in countless languages and styles) in Jules Dassin’s Never on Sunday.
It’s a given (εννοείται) that I totally covet that silk robe she’s wearing. With giant bird embellishment on the back and all. As is.
If you haven’t seen the film, you simply must! I’ve included another scene in case you’re curious:
But she wasn’t just a pretty face. (Though Never on Sunday was released when she was 40 – how good did she look?) She was elegant. She was smart. Exiled because she spoke out against Greece’s military dictatorship, she was a target; and those who wanted her silenced had attempted to assassinate her multiple times, but failed.
Psssshhh!!! You think that scared Melina? Hell no. She went right on speaking and rallying and singing her little heart out. No one would silence her. And when the dictatorship fell, and she was granted back her citizenship, she ran for office. When she made it to the Parliament, she went on to do more things than I can begin to list here…but one thing is certain. She made a difference.
Melina Mercouri was strong, persistent, eloquent and inspiring. In times like these, she is sorely missed.
“You know, it is said we Greeks are a fervent and warm-blooded breed. Well, let me tell you something – it is true.”
October 18th, 1920 – March 6, 1994