Melina Mercouri (Greek: Μελίνα Μερκούρη), born Maria Amalia Mercouri (Greek: Μαρία Αμαλία Μερκούρη) (October 18, 1920 – March 6, 1994), was a Greek actress, singer and politician. She is considered one of the greatest female figures of modern era in Greece, being an actress of international fame and a politician who left her mark on Greek culture.
As an actress she made her film debut in Stella (1955) and met international success with her performances in films such as Never on Sunday, Phaedra, Topkapi and Promise at Dawn. She won the award for Best Actress at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, and apart from her Academy Awards nomination, she was also nominated for 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. Mercouri was the person who, in 1983, conceived and proposed the programme of the European Capital of Culture, which has been established by the European Union since 1985. She was also a strong advocate for the return of the Elgin Marbles, that originally belonged to the Parthenon and are now displayed in the British Museum, to Athens.