Olympia Dukakis, Oscar-Winning ‘Moonstruck’ Actress, Dies at 89

Probably made prior to her Oscar changed her fortunes, Mike Nichol’s “Working Girl” returned Dukakis to the sort of role she had had on a routine basis for much of her career: She was 12th credited for her function as the personnel director. Dukakis, who also did a great deal of tv work, was thrice Oscar chosen, initially for the 1991 TELEVISION motion picture “Lucky Day”, the second time for “Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City” in 1998, and the third time in 1999 for the miniseries “Joan of Arc”. Dukakis was one of the stars of a 1974 political film by writer-director Jules Dassin called “The Rehearsal”, concerning the massacre of students protesting the ruling junta in Greece.

Numerous famous individuals were involved with the movie, consisting of Laurence Olivier, Arthur Miller, Melina Mercouri, Maximilian Schell, and Arthur Millet. But by the time the movie was finished the junta fell and it was never ever openly seen in this country up until decades later. In 1975, the actress appeared in a “Great Performances” presentation of a production of Chekhov’s “The Seagull” that also starred Frank Langella, Blythe Danner, and Lee Grant.

Dukakis is predeceased by her partner, star Louis Zorich, who passed away in 2018. She is endured by child Christina Zorich, a starlet; and sons Peter and Stefan Zorich. Dukakis belonged to the Greek chorus that was either a captivating conceit or an ungainly one, depending on whom you ask.

In Woody Allen’s 1995 romantic comedy “Mighty Aphrodite” in which the chorus talk about the Allen character’s cheating.

Also that year she looked like the hesitant, hard-nosed principal in sentimental Richard Dreyfuss’ automobile “Mr. Holland’s Opus”, and as the mom of a gay guy in the AIDS drama “Jeffrey”. The actress was 56 when she pertained to prominence overnight thanks to her Oscar-winning turn in “Moonstruck”, in which she played, with a remarkable comic ethnic gusto characteristic of the film as an entire, the mom of Cher’s character. The Washington Post singled out Dukakis for appreciation: Cher and Nicolas Cage are “backed by an equally quirky cast of wonderful supporting players – specifically Olympia Dukakis, whose role as Loretta’s world-weary mother Rose is expected to get Oscar’s attention.”

By the next year, however, she was third-billed, behind John Travolta and Kirstie Alley, in child funny “Look Who’s Talking”, in which she played the pregnant Alley’s mother in a way similar to her work in “Moonstruck”. She returned for the 1990 sequel. She played a senile grandma in Jon Kasdan’s “In the Land of Women”, starring Adam Brody, Kristen Stewart, and Meg Ryan.

Much more fascinating was writer-director Thomas Fitzgerald’s 2011 movie “Cloudburst”, in which Dukakis starred with Brenda Fricker as a lesbian couple who travel to Canada in order to get wed. Range said, “Dukakis outshines even her most unforgettable earlier turns as Stella, the irrepressible old dame figured out to spring her lover totally free.” Dukakis’ bro, Apollo Dukakis, announced her death in a Facebook post, composing: “My precious sibling, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this early morning in New York City.”

Dukakis very first experience on Broadway was as an understudy in 1962 on the initial play “The Aspern Papers”, composed by Michael Redgrave based on a story by Henry James and starring Maurice Evans and Wendy Hiller.

In the Peter Yate’s 1969 movie “John and Mary”, starring Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow, Dukakis played the Hoffman character’s mom. She also had a supporting role in 1971’s “Made for Each Other”, starring Renee Taylor and Joseph Bologna. Herbert Ross’ 1989 hit “Steel Magnolias”, starring Julia Roberts, Sally Field, Dolly Parton, Shirley MacLaine, and Dukakis, drew females of all ages with its efficient sentimentality and a lot more effective one-liners, but Rolling Stone said, “For the real fun, stick to MacLaine as the town crank and Dukakis as the wealthy widow who goads her to interruption; they are priceless.”

In 2006, Dukakis was part of the ensemble cast of “The Great New Wonderful”, a series of vignettes about life in New York City a year after the 9/11 attacks. And she did outstanding work in Sarah Polley’s Alzheimers drama “Away From Her”, starring Julie Christie, in which Dukakis character exposes an unwaveringly realistic view of a difficult circumstance – her other half is an Alzheimer’s client. The next year she had a bit part in Danish auteur Bille August’s spiritually based period movie “Jerusalem”.

The actress likewise had an effective however little role in the 2005 father-son road movie “The Thing About My Folks”, starring Peter Falk and Paul Reiser. She made her tv debut in 1962 on an episode of “The Doctors and the Nurses”, also guesting on “Dr. Kildare” the same year. The actress made her big-screen debut in the 1964 film brief “Twice a Man”.

Over the next 10 years she had a variety of little, frequently uncredited, roles in films consisting of “Death Wish”.

Dukakis was a series regular on the short 2004 CBS sitcom “Center of the Universe”, starring John Goodman and Jean Smart. She likewise guested on numerous TV series, supplying voices on “Frasier” and “The Simpsons” and appearing on “Numbers”, “Law & Order: SVU” as a defense lawyer, and HBO detective comedy “Bored to Death”. Dukakis won an Obie in 1963 for her work Off Broadway in Bertolt Brechlt’s “Man Equals Man”.

She struck the stage in 1964 in the one-nighter “Abraham Cochrane”. She went back to Broadway in 1974 in Peter Ustinov’s “Who’s Who in Hell”, but its run proved quick too. A lot more effective was her 1986-87 run in Andrew Bergman’s “Social Security”, directed by Mike Nichols and also starring Ron Silver, Marlo Thomas, and Joanna Gleason.

In 2000 she starred on Broadway in the one-woman program “Rose”, in which she played an 80-year-old Jewish woman in Miami Beach who speaks with the audience of her life, including her experiences in the Holocaust. Amongst the many TELEVISION motion pictures in which Dukakis appeared was HBO and BBC’s “The Last of the Blonde Bombshells” (2000), starring with Judi Dench and Ian Holm and focusing on a reunion of a group of females who formed an orchestra in London during WWII. The starlet starred with Diane Ladd and Ellen Burstyn in the Bill Duke-directed 1993 film “The Cemetery Club”, about 3 Jewish females all of whom discover themselves widowed over the course of a year and must reconstruct their lives, with Dukakis’ character strong-willed and irritable.

After numerous months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis.

Dukakis’ agent, Allison Levy, later on confirmed the news. Her TV work included playing Anna Madrigal, the flamboyant matriarch commanding an apartment building in San Francisco, in HBO’s 1993 “Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City” and the 1998 follow up “Armistead Maupin’s More Tales of the City”, for which she drew an Emmy nomination; and 2001’s 3rd entry “Further Tales of the City”. Olympia Dukakis, a character actress best understood for her Oscar-winning supporting turn in Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck” and for her role as the rich widow in “Steel Magnolias”, has actually died. She was 89.

Much later on, Dukakis taught master classes in acting throughout the U.S. and elsewhere. In July 2020, a documentary about her life, entitled “Olympia”, was launched in the U.S. Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Dukakis graduated from Boston University.

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