American actress Olympia Dukakis, who won an Oscar for her role in the 1987 romantic comedy, Moonstuck, has died at the age of 89, her family has announced.
Her brother wrote that she was “finally at peace” after suffering illness.
Dukakis had a long and distinguished career in theater, both as an actress and as a director.
Hit On-Screen Performances
But in her 50s she has starred in a series of comedy on the screen, includingan award-winning turn as Cher’s mother in Moonstruck. the chance to win an award as Cher’s mother in Moonstruck.
That run – in the late 1980s – also included roles in Steel Magnolias, Working Girl and Look Who’s Talking.
Other important roles were as Mr. Holland’s Opus high school principal in 1995 and as transgender lady in the Tales of the City TV series, whose fourth series began airing on Netflix in 2019.
“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” Apollo Dukakis wrote on Facebook.
“After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her [husband] Louis.”
Olympia Dukakis was born in 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts to Greek immigrants. Her cousin Michael was a Democratic candidate for the US presidential election, defeated by George HW Bush.
Dukakis studied performing arts at Boston University, moving to New York in the late 1950s. She starred in dozens of plays on and off Broadway, as well as directing and teaching.
In 1961 she met actor producer Louis Zorich. She had been cast as a married woman in a play and Zorich auditioned for the part of her husband.
Dukakis had many roles on the big and small screens but it was Moonstruck that inspired Dukakis to settle down and won her the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.
Playing an eye-rolling, interfering Italian matriarch, in one stand-out scene she tells her 37-year-old on screen daughter Cher “your life’s going down the toilet”.
Despite the Oscar, and critical acclaim, she said she was taken aback, not considering the part one of her more important roles.
“All of the attention I was getting was lovely, of course, but I was more than a little confused about why it had come at this point, and with this role, which, to my mind, was not the greatest part I had ever played,” she said.
She has been nominated three times for an Emmy for her TV work – Lucky Day (1991), More Tales of the City (1998) and Joan of Arc (1999).