The passing of famed actress and former Culture Minister Melina Mercouri on March 7, 1994 was noted when a crowd gathered at her burial spot in the First Cemetery of Athens to pay continued respects.
Among them were ere gathered at her grave to pay tribute to Melina Mercouri. The memorial was attended among others by her brother, Spiros, author Alki Zei, her close colleague Manuella Pavlidou and the Laliotis family.
Serving as Minister of Culture Mercouri believed in the cultural dialogue between the European nations and was the inspirer of the European Cultural Capital idea and she began the Municipal Regional Theatre and campaigned tirelessly for the return of the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.
Several awards have been named for her including the theatrical Melina Mercouri Award and the UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage Award Melina Mercouri given every two years since 1997.
As an actress she made her film debut in Stella (1955) and met international success with her performances in Never on Sunday, Phaedra, Topkapi and Promise at Dawn. She won the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, and she was also nominated for an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and two BAFTA Awards.
A political activist during the Greek military junta of 1967–1974, she became a member of the Hellenic Parliament in 1977 and the first female Minister for Culture of Greece in 1981.