Actor Olympia Dukakis, known for her role in Moonstruck, passed away Saturday. She was 89.
Her brother Apollo announced that she died in New York after “months of failing health,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” he said. “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis.”
Movie role brought fame to stage actress
Dukakis’s career is crowned by a 1987 Oscar for her performance in the classic romantic comedy, in which she played the nagging Italian mother of the protagonist portrayed by Cher. The role brought Dukakis, who had been working on New York stages for years, instant fame.
Remembering her former castmate, Cher tweeted, “Olympia Dukakis Was An Amazing, Academy Award Winning Actress… I talked to her 3Wks Ago. Rip Dear One.”
Fans may also remember Dukakis from movies like Steel Magnolias, Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking and Mr. Holland’s Opus.
She is also known as the cousin of former presidential candidate and governor Michael Dukakis, who lost the 1988 election to George H.W. Bush. “She had an incredible life and we were very proud of her,” Michael said Saturday.
Stage, TV, movie actor
Olympia was born the child of Greek immigrants in Lowell, Massachusetts, in 1931. Her husband of 55 years, fellow actor Zorich, died in 2018. They met while auditioning for opposite roles as a married couple.
Although mostly remembered for Moonstruck, Olympia once recalled that she didn’t see it as her most important role, the BBC notes. She had a prolific career on the stage as well, and was fond of the classics. She also found success in television, earning three Emmy nominations over her lifetime.
But she never regretted the notoriety the movie brought her, or the stability it brought to the often tumultuous life of an actor.
“The fun part is that people pass me on the street and yell lines from my movies,” she once recalled to the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “For ‘Moonstruck’ they say, ‘Your life is going down the toilet.'”
“But I’m very glad I did ‘Moonstruck.’ It meant that I woke up the next day and was finally able to pay the bills,” she told the Guardian in 2012.