Oscar-winning Olympia Dukakis, whose hit films include Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias, has died. She was 89 years old.
Dukakis’ brother, Apollo Dukakis, announced the news on Facebook on Saturday, writing that “after many months of deteriorating health” his “beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, died this morning in New York.”
Dukakis won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for Moonstruck, a 1987 romantic comedy starring the protagonist’s mother, played by Cher against Nicholas Cage. Other films include “See Who’s Talking” and its sequel “Working Girl” and Mr. Holland’s “Opus.”
In an extensive television career, Dukakis appeared as Anna Madrigal, a transsexual landlord in San Francisco, in series based on Armisteed Mopin’s Tales of the City. She also appeared in Stoner’s comedy “Bored to Death,” in which her character had a relationship with a character played by Zack Galifianakis.
“I’ve always played older,” she told the New York Times in 2004. “I think that was the voice.”
In Saturday’s tribute, Cher tweeted: “Olympia Dukakis was an amazing Oscar-winning actress. Olympia played my mother in Moonstruck, and although her role was that of a suffering wife … all the time she told me how much she loved Lewis, her “beautiful talented husband.” I spoke to her three weeks ago. Rip dear.
Star Trek actor George Takei writes: “We were shot by her because she told us great stories from the city. A real steel magnolia in a more common forest. Ah, what a life force, she’s the best in recent years. Rest now in heaven, Olympia. ”
Dukakis had a wide stage career and married Luis Zorich, also an actor, in 1962. They have three children.
They appeared together once, in Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf for the theater company they founded in Montclair, New Jersey in 1979. After Zorich’s death in 2018, at the age of 93, The Times “He quotes a 1991 interview in which he said the couple became so involved as a warring couple that they” almost divorced. “
On Saturday, Apollo Dukakis wrote that his sister was “finally at peace with her Luis.”
Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1931, Olympia Dukakis is a cousin of Michael Dukakis, the governor of Massachusetts, who was nominated by the Democratic Party for president in 1988. Gathering an Oscar this year, she holds the award over her head and calls: ” All right, Michael, let’s go! They both referred to ’88 as the “Year of the Dukaki,” but it lost to Republican George H. W. Bush.
In 2012, Dukakis told the Guardian that he felt that her Greek origins meant that she was “an outsider and that I never fit in completely – both with regard to Greek culture and the mainstream culture of the United States.” Growing up, I was always somehow torn between these two worlds, never with enough respect for either. But that’s good. “
In an in-depth interview in 2001, she told the same newspaper that growing up, “we fought the Armenians, we fought the Irish, we fought the French, they fought us. We were only eight or nine and we were going to call each other grapeball, Mick, wow, and so on. And of course we would make fun of the other’s names. “
Describing Zorich’s imminent death in a car crash in 1977, she said: “The people in the casting knew what had happened and they would call and give me two or three days in the movies. People were very nice because they knew we were [struggling]. I remember thinking, “It’s too hard. I want to stop, I just want to stop. “
But acting turned out to be too much of an equality – and “the only thing I could make a living from.”
“The process is extremely interesting,” Dukakis said. “How you change as you work and age. Somehow you get to know who you are and what you are and why you are. “
Success, she said, is sometimes difficult to manage.
“I had a hard time with that. People told me, “Oh, you paid the dues.” But there were a lot of people like that. And what about all those amazing plays I’ve been to? Making a fuss about Oscar felt like a betrayal.
“It finally occurred to me: maybe luck comes to you for the same reason as bad. It’s all about understanding more: you learn a lot when you’re struggling, and other things when you’re what the world calls successful. Or maybe it’s just something that’s happening. Some days it is cold and other days it is hot. “
In a 2012 interview, Dukakis discussed his status as a gay icon, thanks to the role of Anna Madrigal.
“I appreciate that my work is seen and understood and felt relevant to people,” she said. “I am also lucky to have friends with different sexual beliefs, some of which are completely inexplicable to me. So everything is fine.
“Last year I was a great marshal at a gay parade in San Francisco, and that was good, too. You can walk around in a car and wave to people: that’s all. My hand was so tired from waving that my brother had to lift it. ”