Lawrence O'Toole
March 18, 1994 AT 05:00 AM EST

Legacy: Melina Mercouri

The outsize features of Greece’s most famous actress, Melina Mercouri, who died in Manhattan last week of cancer at 68, were apt for someone who became a living monument in her own country. She made her international splash in 1960 as the happiest of hookers in Never on Sunday, but her greatest contribution may have been her political fervor. Married to the film’s director, Jules Dassin, who was blacklisted in Hollywood during the McCarthy era, and forced into exile from 1967 to 1974 by a rightist government, Mercouri later returned to become Greece’s Minister of Culture. Here, her best films on video:

Never On Sunday (1960, MGM/UA) No one has ever worn an off-the-shoulder tank top to better effect. A

Topkapi (1964, FoxVideo) An eye-filling Mercouri helps in a dandy heist at Istanbul’s Topkapi Museum. B+

Nasty Habits (1976, Media) Mercouri is hilarious in this Watergate spoof with nuns. B+

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