Got A Girl Crush On: Melina Mercouri (Photographed by Henry Groskinsky for Life Magazine, 1965)
I first caught wind of Ms. Mercouri when I was taking film classes in college. I had taken a liking to director, Jules Dassin (whom she would later marry) and long story short… I eventually stumbled on to Never On Sunday (1960).
Although, I’m not one to easily fall for the quintessential “hooker with a heart of gold” character and premise, I found that with her character, Illya, it was difficult not to (I wasn’t the only one. She immediately received international fame, picking up ‘Best Actress’ at both Cannes and the Academy Awards). Her multi-dimensional character is so genuinely light-hearted and joyful that it’s hard to think of the off screen Melina being any different. This hunch is just further confirmed by what’s portrayed in her various films, interviews and photos.
While today’s leading ladies are barely old enough to be considered ladies, Melina Mercouri began her acting career in her mid-thirties and had become a world-famous sex symbol at 40 — being dubbed “The Last Greek Goddess”.
Oh yeah… In addition to film, she performed on broadway, pursued a music career, and was later elected into Greek Parliament where she became the first woman to hold a senior cabinet post as Minister of Culture.
If all that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will. Her infectious smile, alone, reflects a woman that I can only hope to become. Hence, the girl crush.
I spent the day off, still recovering from surgery, and used it to knock out a backlog of documentaries that I’ve been putting off. Films that I knew would be excellent, but also, ones that I knew would be emotionally exhausting to get through.
Like Born in the Brothels, these two films are not only beautiful in their own rights, but they really do wonders for me in that they help to shake off the building jadedness that becomes a result of being a bystander to the art world.
Art has always been such an inspiring thing for me and when it begins to feel completely disingenuous, its nice to be reminded of the good it can do. Be it a voice for the oppressed, a vehicle for social change or simply just an outlet from a person’s trouble life.
When times are as ugly and scary as they are today, it’s refreshing to be reminded of the beauty and potential in humanity. We are capable of truly amazing things, and it can be incredible when this is captured and portrayed… genuinely.
P.S. Pardon the momentary sappiness, I’m sure I’ll be back to the ol’ dick-n-fart joke frame of mind in a matter of days.