You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mercouri funeral draws 300,000

ATHENS — Hundreds of thousands of sorrowful Greeks escorted actress and politician Melina Mercouri to her grave Thursday, applauding and showering her coffin with flower petals.

Police said more than 300,000 people followed the procession taking Mercouri’s flag-draped coffin from Athens Cathedral to the First Cemetery for burial.

Mercouri, 68, described in the press as “the last Greek goddess,” died Sunday at New York’s Memorial Hospital from complications after surgery for lung cancer.

Athens was brought to a standstill, with schools, shops and government offices closed to allow people to attend the ceremony, which lasted for almost three hours.

A tall blonde with green eyes, she achieved international stardom with her Oscar-nominated role of a carefree prostitute in the 1960 film “Never on Sunday.”

She was Greece’s culture minister in 1981-1989 and again, after the Socialist Party won elections last October.

Popular on Variety

“You were the light of Greece,” said Jack Lang, former French culture minister and a friend, in his eulogy at the funeral service. “You embodied the Greek ideal of freedom.”

Her petal-covered casket was carried on a gun carriage, hauled by a military vehicle past the parliament where she served as a member for 16 years.

Respected for her struggles for democracy and culture, she was adored by the public for her fiery personality. “Melina wore beauty, wore life and freedom like a casual shirt,” said her friend, the novelist Lily Zografou.

“I remember everything about her, especially her laughter. We adored her, the whole world did,” said a tearful Anna Panayotopoulou, 45, as she waited outside the cathedral.

More Scene

  • Laverne Cox Charlie's Angels

    How Laverne Cox Landed a Cameo in Elizabeth Banks' 'Charlie’s Angels'

    Laverne Cox officially earned her wings, scoring a role in Sony’s “Charlie’s Angels.” But she revealed her cameo almost didn’t happen. When the Emmy-nominee heard that Elizabeth Banks was directing the film, the longtime fan of the franchise (and of Banks herself) reached out about being part of the project. Cox had previously worked with [...]

  • Lena Waithe'The Inheritance' Broadway play opening,

    Lena Waithe, Anderson Cooper Attend Broadway Opening of 'The Inheritance'

    “The Inheritance” pulls viewers in many directions — toward pain and hope, trauma and healing. It’s what brought stars like Andy Cohen, Anderson Cooper, Sarah Jessica Parker, Matthew Broderick and Lena Waithe to Broadway on Sunday — a chance to heal, to remember and grieve. Also in attendance for the premiere at the Barrymore Theater [...]

  • Cybill ShepherdTrevorLIVE, Show, The Beverly Hilton,

    'The L Word' Co-Stars Cybill Shepherd and Jane Lynch Reunite at TrevorLive

    Fans of Showtime’s “The L Word” will be happy to hear that Cybill Shepherd eagerly reprised her on-screen romance with former co-star Jane Lynch on Sunday night at the TrevorLive Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. While accepting the champion Award, Shepherd kissed Lynch not one, but twice. The “Moonlighting” star was recognized [...]

  • Rami Malek, Robert Pattinson and John

    Robert Pattinson Praises Fans for Raising Funds for Go Campaign: ‘It’s So Sweet’

    Robert Pattinson is giving back, but he’s even more impressed that his friends and fans are joining him in the fight. “It’s amazing,” Pattinson told Variety on the black carpet outside Neuehouse in Hollywood at the Go Campaign’s annual gala. “And they’ve done it every year. It’s kind of — it’s so sweet and I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content