Melina Merkouri's involvement with politics was inevitable since she descended from a family that fought in the Revolution of 1821, her grandfather Spyros Merkouris was mayor of Athens and her father, Stamatis Merkouris was a member of the Greek Parliament and a minister. In 1949 she triumphed with her performance in "A Streetcar Named Desire" at the Art Theater of KarolosKoun. In 1955 she starred in the film "Stella" by Michalis Kakogiannis. At that year's Cannes Film Festival, she met director Jules Dassin, and in 1960 she gained international stardom with "Never on Sunday."
She fought the military junta between 1967 and 1974 fervently. After the Metapolitefsi (Transition to democracy), she became Minister for Culture, and her name was associated with the fight for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. Her legacy was The Unification of the Archaeological Sites of Athens, a project that transformed the appearance of the nation's capital.