Melina Mercouri

  1. Geraldine Page, Sweet Bird of Youth, 1961.  Scripter-director Richard Brooks wanted Garbo and no one else as the Hollywood hasbeen Alexandra Del Lago  – think Norma Desmond with a star with a Tennessee Williams spin – Alexandra Del Lago spin. She did not agree, of course. (“Me, a has been?”) Brooks tried Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Lana Turner, plus Greek Melina Mercouri and  Austrian Maria Schell, – before realising no one   could match Geraldine Page from the  1959 Broadway play – which also featured her husband, Rip Torn. Their Big Apple postbox was marked Torn Page!

  2. Ava Gardner,  55 Days At Peking, 1963.  Charlton Heston was against Ava for a Russian countess and suggested Deborah Kerr or the Greek star Mercouri – who agreed as long as the script was pumped up.  Somewhat. It wasn’t. He later reported how Ava’s character was killed off because nobody could stand her unprofessionalism anymore. Drunk on-set, cursing director, Nichoals Ray

  3. Barbara Hershey, Shy People, 1987. “A long journey,” summed up Russian director Andrei Konchalovsky.  He wrote it ten years before when shooting Siberiade in Siberia.  Once in America, the project took shape: “Mercouri as  a  woman  living on a very isolated Adriatic island,  the mother of a  family of  fishermen. Liv Ullman as the woman from  the city.”  He re-set it in Louisiana bayou country. Barbara won Best Actress at Cannes – first of two consecutive wins at the French festival.


 Birth year: 1923Death year: 1994Other name: Casting Calls:  3