Celebrities in Switzerland: Melina Mercouri
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Mercouri, Melina (1920 - 1994) Greece / Music star / VD

The Greek singer lived over seven years in Lausanne. Maria Amalia Mersuris was born in 1920 in Athens to a bourgeois family. Her grandfather was the mayor of Athens and her father was a Parliamentary deputy. During the Second World War, her father was one of the leaders of the resistance against the German occupation. Melina inherited this spirit of rebellion.

During the war, she studied at the national school of theater and acted in several plays in the forties. She started her film career in the fifties and became known in 1960 for the film Jamais le Dimanche (Never on Sunday). In 1964, she played in Topkapi , and in 1966, she married the director of the film, Jules Dassin.

After a military coup that brought a handful of colonels to power in Greece in 1967, Melina Mercouri lost her civil rights and was forced into exile. She thus began an international tour and sang in favor of freedom in Greece. During her exile, the singer found a warm welcome within the thriving community of Greek expatriates in Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. From this ideal central location in Europe, she went on music tours to all the European capitals in support of the Greek resistance.

After the collapse of the dictatorship in 1974, Melina Mercouri returned to Greece where she entered into politics. First Parliamentary deputy, she rose to the position of Minister of Culture from 1981 to 1989. During her mandate, she fought especially for the return of the Parthenon Marbles, stored at the British Museum in London.

In 1993, Melina Mercouri was once again appointed Minister of Culture, a position she held until her death in 1994, in New York. Today, the Melina Mercouri Foundation continues the fight for the preservation of ancient Greek monuments.

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