Page last updated at 01:39 GMT, Tuesday, 1 April 2008 02:39 UK

Film director Jules Dassin dies

Jules Dassin - 10/7/2000
Mr Dassin's Hollywood career was cut short when he was blacklisted

American film director Jules Dassin has died in an Athens hospital after a short illness, at the age of 96.

Blacklisted in Hollywood after WWII, he went to Europe where he married the late Greek actress and later culture minister Melina Mercouri.

She starred in Mr Dassin's most famous film, Never on Sunday.

After her death in 1994, Mr Dassin fought to realise her main goal: the return of the Parthenon, or Elgin, marbles from Britain to Greece.

A spokesman for Hygeia hospital in Athens said Mr Dassin had been admitted for treatment two weeks ago.

"Greece grieves the loss of a rare human being, an important creator and a true friend," Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis said in a statement.

Oscar nominations

Mr Dassin was born in the US state of Connecticut on 18 December 1911.

He worked as an actor and theatre producer before becoming an assistant to film director Alfred Hitchcock.

He was active in leftist politics and in the early 1950s his promising Hollywood career was cut short when he was named as a communist and blacklisted.

Jules Dassin (right) with his wife Melina Mercouri in Paris on 16 January 1966
Dassin and Mercouri campaigned for the return of the Elgin marbles

He met Ms Mercouri at the Cannes Film Festival in 1955 where he won the best director prize for his film Rififi. Its long heist sequence, without dialogue, became a template for many later crime capers.

He directed his wife in seven films, including 1960's Never on Sunday in which she played a prostitute with a heart of gold. He received Oscar nominations for best director and screenplay.

Mr Dassin stopped making films in 1980 after Circle of Two starring Richard Burton performed poorly at the box office.

Ms Mercouri was elected to the Greek parliament in 1974 and in 1981 the newly-elected socialist government appointed her culture minister.

After his wife's death he created the Melina Mercouri Foundation to continue her campaign to have the 2,500-year-old marbles that were stripped from the Parthenon returned to Greece.

"He will be remembered for all his good work and struggles with Melina for his campaign for the return of the marbles, which will continue," said socialist opposition leader George Papandreou.

The real story of the Elgin Marbles
25 Jun 04 |  Entertainment

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific