Fiery, smoky-voiced Greek stage and screen actress with green eyes and natural blonde hair, adept at both drama and comedy. Melina Mercouri was in many ways a parallel figure to stars ranging from Hol...
The Queen star took to the stage at the event in Malta to accept a prize for her contribution to world cinema and she used the opportunity to reference Moreau in her acceptance speech, telling the audience, "Thank you for the great honour of recognising that I too am a f**king w**re - and I am very very proud of it."
Mirren's outburst mirrored a speech by Moreau, who won a similar honour at the 2007 event and proclaimed: "We are the f**king wonderful w**res of European cinema."
The British actress went on to explain her choice of words by listing Moreau among the actresses she has idolised throughout her career, adding, "Jeanne Moreau, Monica Vitti, Claudia Cardinale, Liv Ullmann, Hanna Schygulla, Melina Mercouri, Irene Papas and for me the greatest of all Anna Magnani - those to me were the actresses that I looked up to and and wanted to be like - I wanted to be an actress like them and I wanted to be a woman like them."
During the ceremony, director Bernardo Bertolucci was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, and Michael Haneke's latest movie Amour scooped the event's top prize - the Best European Film of 2012 title.
Filmmaker Jules Dassin has died following a short illness. He was 96.
The director passed away in an Athens, Greece, hospital on Monday.
Dassin, who is best known for his Oscar-winning 1960 movie Never On Sunday, was married to the late Greek actress and culture minister Melina Mercouri.
Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis says, "Greece grieves the loss of a rare human being, an important creator and a true friend. His passion, energy, fighting spirit and nobility will never be forgotten."
Dassin started his career as an actor and theater producer; his breakthrough came as an assistant to legendary filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock in 1940.
He moved to France in the early 1950s after he was named as part of Hollywood's "communist faction" during a House of Representatives un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) hearing.
Dassin went on to marry Mercouri, who starred in Never On Sunday, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song and for which Dassin received two Academy Award nominations for Best Director and Best Writing, Story and Screenplay.
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Writer-director Jules Dassin, who will turn 90 on Dec. 18, is due to make a special appearance at the Harvard Film Archive tonight for a screening of Never on Sunday, the classic 1960 comedy starring his late wife, Melina Mercouri.
Dassin, who has spent most of the past 50 years as an expatriate after being blacklisted in Hollywood in the early '50s, will be appearing as part of a retrospective of his work, which also includes Brute Force, Naked City, Rififi and Topkapi.
In Hollywood, 98-year-old Al Hirschfeld is expected to attend the October 26 opening of an exhibit of his film-related artwork at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
First met Jules Dassin at the Cannes Film Festival where "Stella" was screened
Named Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports
Breakthrough film, "Never on Sunday"
Returned to her post as Minister of Culture in October
Starred on Broadway in "Lysistrata"
Elected member of Greek Parliament for the Port of Piraeus
First film with director Dassin, "He Who Must Die"
Appeared on Greek stage in "Stella"
Lost bid for seat in Greek Parliament by a narrow margin
Broadway musical debut, "Ilya, Darling"; received a Tony nomination as Best Actress in a musical; after Colonels' Junta, made a spech onstage about what was happening in Greece
Moved to Paris with Dassin
Film debut in Michael Cacoyannis's "Stella", Mercouri's only film in Greek
Diagnosed with lung cancer
Helped found the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) in the 1970s after the overthrow of the Greek Colonels
Greek citizenship revoked; restored in 1974
Left Greece during the reign of the Colonels' Junta; her films and songs were banned and a warrant was issued for her arrest; eventually lost her Greek citizenship
Lost her bid to become Mayor of Athens with a 46% of the local vote
Appointed Minister of Culture and Sciences for the Greek government during which time she lobbied for the return of the Elgin Marbles, abolished museum fees for all Greeks and initiated the building of a new Acropolis Museum; new little provincial theater
Made stage debut
Regained Greek citizenship
Underwent surgery in February to remove a small tumor from her right lung; complications set in
Fiery, smoky-voiced Greek stage and screen actress with green eyes and natural blonde hair, adept at both drama and comedy. Melina Mercouri was in many ways a parallel figure to stars ranging from Hollywoodites Susan Hayward and Joan Crawford to Italy's Sophia Loren and Anna Magnani, with a star persona manifesting an outsize personality, a penchant for melodrama and a riveting lust for life. An established stage performer by the early 1950s, she made her film debut as a free-living bouzouki cafe singer in 1955 in Michael Cacoyannis' Greek-language film, "Stella", which was expressly written for her. Mercouri achieved international stardom with a number of features directed by the expatriate American director Jules Dassin, whom she married in 1966 and with whom she collaborated on nine films. Among these, audiences probably best remember Mercouri's delightful, performance as a sentimental, happy-go-lucky prostitute in her signature film, "Never on Sunday" (1960). She also brought her volatile screen persona to "Phaedra" (1961), an old-fashioned star vehicle disguised as updated Greek mythology, and was suitably tongue-in-cheek in the enjoyable caper escapade, "Topkapi" (1964) and middling spy adventure, "A Man Could Get Killed" (1966).
Long a political activist who sought to symbolize the soul of Greek national identity, Mercouri lived an off screen life as adventurous as any torrid melodrama she enacted onscreen. An outspoken woman of principle, she was expelled from Greece by the notorious Colonels' Junta in 1967 but eventually returned in 1974 and won a parliamentary seat for the Socialist party in 1977. Mercouri's acting career gradually abated as she become increasingly involved in politics, but she did appear onstage in her native land as well as on Broadway in "Ilya, Darling" (1967-68). She also continued acting in occasional international films, including the trashy "Jacqueline Susann's Once Is Not Enough" (1975). Mercouri later became the flamboyant and controversial Greek Minister of Culture and Sciences and gained her greatest attention in that capacity when she successfully lobbied for the return of the Elgin Marbles, classical sculptures which the British Museum had removed from the Parthenon in the 19th century. Mercouri later ran unsuccessfully for the office of Mayor of Athens in 1990 while still retaining her seat in Parliament and returned to her ministerial job in October of 1993, not long before her death from lung cancer complications. For both her acting achievements on stage and screen and for her zestful commitment to Greek art and politics, Mercouri was justly mourned as a national heroine.
married 1966; born December 18, 1911; met in 1955 at the Cannes Film Festival where Mercouri's film "Stella" was shown; American; left the US after being blacklisted during the HUAC hearings; Swiss resident; had previously been married to Beatrice Launer (1933-62)
married c. 1942; eloped; was in his thirties at the time; divorced his wife, a Romanian dancer, to marry Mercouri; Cambridge-educated; divorced
legislator; Minister of (Greek) Interior; deputy mayor of Athens; ran off with an actor before divorce
campaign manager for sister's mayoral bid
National Theater Academy
"She has a very aggressive sexuality, which is rare in a female film star. It's almost masculine. She's always been rather emancipated--she knows what she wants and she knows how to get it." --British journalist Peter Aspden quoted in Vanity Fair, February 1991.
"Even today Melina Mercouri is the quintessential champagne socialist. Her baths are drawn by servants, her clothes laid out. During the mayor's race she voted in Armani." --Maureen Orth in "'La Pasionaria' of the Acropolis" in Vanity Fair, February 1991.