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This Week in History: May 28th to June 3rd

May 28th:

On this day in 1952, the women of Greece were given the right to vote and to be elected in parliamentary elections. However, the women could not vote in the immediately following elections (in November of 1952) because they were not registered in time to be included in the voter registration lists as required by law. In time, the women’s right to vote led to their earning places and job positions in businesses and in the government of Greece and were eventually able to maintain their right to inherit property (even after being married).

May 29th:

On this day in 2017, Konstantinos Mitsotakis, the former Prime Minister of Greece, died at the age of 98. Born in the port of Chania on the southern Greek island of Crete on October 18, 1918, Mitsotakis was the nephew of liberal statesman Eleftherios Venizelos and was first elected to Parliament as a member of that party in 1946. In 1977, Mitsotakis re-entered Parliament at the head of the small Neoliberal Party and, the following year, joined the governing New Democracy party, serving first as Finance Minister and later as Foreign Minister. He became the party’s leader in 1984 while the conservatives were in opposition. Mitsotakis narrowly won the elections in 1990 after the Socialists became entangled in a financial scandal and polls in 1989 twice produced a hung Parliament. After his resignation as party leader, Mitsotakis often made public statements urging governments to take bolder steps in their market reforms and led an unsuccessful effort for Greece’s President to be elected directly by the people. Mitsotakis and his wife, Marika (who passed away in 2012), had four children: Dora, Katerina, Alexandra, and Kyriakos. He enjoyed good health until late in life and lived long enough to meet several great-grandchildren as well as to see his youngest child and only son, Kyriakos, elected as leader of New Democracy in January of 2016.

June 3rd:

On this day in 2001, Antonio (Anthony) Quinn, the Mexican actor who played Zorba in Zorba the Greek (1964), died from complications of throat cancer at the age of 86. Quinn was born in 1915 in Chihuahua, Mexico – the son of freedom fighters in the Mexican Revolution – but his family moved to Los Angeles shortly after his birth. Throughout his life, Quinn had a variety of jobs including prizefighter, painter, musician, and preacher. By the time he was 80, Quinn had appeared in more than 150 films (and won two Academy Awards), but was universally identified with his role as Zorba. His full-of-life character, whom he inhabited so completely and comfortably that many of his later parts seemed also to be infused with that character’s spirit, also mirrored his off screen life (evidenced in part by the fact that his 13th child was born when he was in his 80s). Quinn’s other ‘Greek’ roles included playing Aristotle Onassis in The Greek Tycoon (1978), Zorba on Broadway (1980s), and the Greek god, Zeus, on the TV series Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1990s).

Also on this day in 2001, writer and actress Tina Fey married Jeff Richmond in a Greek Orthodox ceremony at The Merion Tribute House in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Richmond was the music director for the late-night television variety show Saturday Night Live (SNL) before leaving in 2006 to produce and compose music for 30 Rock. The couple began dating in 1994 before marrying seven years later. When asked what made Richmond fall in love with Fey, he responded, “I fell in love with her very quickly. She has this caustic, biting wit that pops out occasionally, but she really does have a little-girl-from-the-suburbs kind of ambience. She’s a shy person.” Fey and Richmond have two daughters, Alice (born in September 2005) and Penelope Athena (born in August 2011).

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