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Jules Dassin
Born Julius Dassin
December 18, 1911(1911-12-18)
Middletown, Connecticut, United States
Died March 31, 2008 (aged 96)
Athens, Greece
Spouse(s) Beatrice Launer (1933–1962)
Melina Mercouri (1966–1994)

Jules Dassin (December 18, 1911 – March 31, 2008), born Julius Dassin, was an American film director. He was a subject of the Hollywood blacklist in the McCarthy era, and subsequently moved to France where he revived his career.


Early life

One of eight children of a Russian-Jewish barber in Middletown, Connecticut, Dassin started as a Yiddish actor with the ARTEF (Yiddish Proletarian Theater) company in New York. He collaborated on a film with Jack Skurnick that was incomplete because of Skurnick's early death.


Dassin quickly became better known for his noir films Brute Force, The Naked City, and Thieves' Highway in the 1940s, which helped him to become "one of the leading American filmmakers of the postwar era."[1]

Dassin's most influential film was the heist movie Rififi, which inspired a genre of movies including Ocean's Eleven and Mission: Impossible.[1]

Personal life

Jules Dassin was married to:

  • Béatrice Launer, a Hungarian-born violinist (aka Beatrice Launer-Dassin). They married in 1933 and divorced in 1962. Their children were: Joseph Ira Dassin (1938–1980), a popular French singer in the 1970s, songwriter Richelle "Rickie" Dassin (born 1940), and actress-singer Julie Dassin (born 1944 and also known as Julie D.).[1]
  • Melina Mercouri, Greek actress and former wife of Panos Harokopos. They married in 1966.

Affiliation with Greece

He was considered a major Philhellene to the point of Greek officials describing him as a "first generation Greek". Along with his last wife, Melina Mercouri, he opposed the Greek military junta. A major supporter of the return of the Elgin Marbles to Athens, for which he established the Melina Mercouri Institution in her memory, he missed the opening ceremony of the New Acropolis Museum by only a few months due to his death at the age of 96.[2]

Upon his death, the Greek prime minister, Costas Karamanlis, released a statement: "Greece mourns the loss of a rare human being, a significant artist and true friend. His passion, his relentless creative energy, his fighting spirit and his nobility will remain unforgettable."[1]

Awards and honors

For his 1956 film Rififi, Dassin earned the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival.[1] His 1960 film Never on Sunday earned the music Academy Award (Manos Hadjidakis, Ta Paidia tou Peiraia), and the Cannes Film Festival best actress award (Melina Mercouri).[2][3]


Year Film Credited as
Director Producer Writer Actor Role
1941 The Tell-Tale Heart Yes
1942 Nazi Agent Yes
The Affairs of Martha Yes
Reunion in France Yes
1943 Young Ideas Yes
1944 The Canterville Ghost Yes
1946 Two Smart People Yes
A Letter for Evie Yes
1947 Brute Force Yes
1948 The Naked City Yes
1949 Thieves' Highway Yes
1950 Night and the City Yes
1955 Rififi Yes Yes Yes Cesar le Milanais
1957 He Who Must Die Yes Yes
1959 The Law Yes Yes
1960 Never on Sunday Yes Yes Yes Yes Homer Thrace
1962 Phaedra Yes Yes Yes Yes Christo
1964 Topkapi Yes Yes Yes Turkish cop
1966 10:30 P.M. Summer Yes Yes Yes
1968 Survival 1967 Yes Yes
Up Tight! Yes Yes Yes
1970 Promise at Dawn Yes Yes Yes Yes Ivan Mozzhukhin
1974 The Rehearsal Yes Yes Yes
1978 A Dream of Passion Yes Yes Yes
1980 Circle of Two Yes


  1. ^ a b c d Luther, Claudia (April 1, 2008). "Blacklisted Director Jules Dassin Dies at 96". The Times.,0,5046745.story.  
  2. ^ a b (Greek) Skai News, Απεβίωσε ο Ζυλ Ντασέν (Jules Dassin died), English (machine translation) Retrieved on 2008-04-01.
  3. ^ Internet Movie Database, Pote tin Kyriaki (1960), Retrieved on 2008-04-01.

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