″Tales Of The City″ New York Premiere

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – JUNE 03: Olympia Dukakis attends “Tales Of The City” New York Premiere at The … [+] Metrograph on June 03, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)


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Olympia Dukakis, who reached a career zenith as Cher’s long-suffering mother Rose Castorini in Moonstruck in 1987, died Saturday morning. She was 89.

“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” wrote her brother Apollo, who confirmed her death on his Facebook page. “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her [husband] Louis [Zorich].”

The cause of death has yet to be determined.

The Academy Awards

049944 07: Actress Olympia Dukakis holds her Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for … [+] “Moonstruck” at the Academy Awards April 11, 1988 in Los Angeles, CA. The Academy Awards are prizes given out annually in Hollywood for excellence in film performance and production. (Photo by John Barr/Liaison)


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Born June 20, 1931 in Lowell, Massachusetts, Olympia Dukakis starred in more than 130 stage productions, with a resume populated with approximately 60 films and 50 television series roles. She won her Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in 1988 for aforementioned Moonstruck, as well as a Golden Globe Award, and she received Emmy Award nominations for TV productions Lucky Day in 1991, More Tales of the City in 1998, and Joan of Arc in 1999.

“The fun part is that people pass me on the street and yell lines from my movies,” she told The Los Angeles Times in an interview in 1991. “For Moonstruck they say, ‘Your life is going down the toilet.’ Or from Dad, they say, ‘How much are those pork chops?’ They say, ‘Do you know who you are?’ It’s real funny.”

During her Oscars acceptance speech, Dukakis concluded by spontaneously shouting, “‘OK, Michael, let’s go!’” in reference to her cousin, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis, winning the Democratic nomination in the 1988 presidential election.

In addition to Moonstruck and Dad, other memorable film roles for Olympia Dukakis included Working Girl (1988), Steel Magnolias (1989), Look Who’s Talking (1989) and Look Who’s Talking Too (1990), The Cemetery Club in 1993, and Mighty Aphrodite (1995).

Ron Galella Archive - File Photos

CENTURY CITY,CA – NOVEMBER 9: Actors Olympia Dukakis and Daryl Hannah and Musician Dolly Parton … [+] attend the “Steel Magnolias” Century City Premiere on November 9, 1989 at Cineplex Odeon Century Plaza Cinemas in Century City, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)


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On the stage, Dukakis’ first experience on Broadway was as an understudy in 1962 inj the play The Aspern Papers, written by Michael Redgrave based on a story by Henry James and starring Maurice Evans and Wendy Hiller. Dukakis won an Obie in 1963 for her work Off Broadway in Bertolt Brechlt’s Man Equals Man.

TCA Press Tour CBS Day 1

LOS ANGELES – JULY 18: Actress Olympia Dukakis of “Center of the Universe” speaks with the press at … [+] the TCA Press Tour CBS Day 1 on July 18, 2004 at the Century Plaza Hotel, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)


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Other stage roles included Who’s Who in Hell opposite Peter Ustinov in 1974; Social Security opposite Ron Silver, Marlo Thomas and Joanna Gleason in 1986-87; and in one-woman show Rose in 2000 as an 80-year-old Jewish woman in Miami Beach who talks to the audience of her life, including her experiences in the Holocaust.

Dukakis and husband Louis Zorich founded the Charles Playhouse in Boston and the Whole Theater in Montclair, N.J., in the 1970s. They appeared together in several productions. She also taught drama at New York University and occasionally worked with her former students.

On television, Dukakis appeared opposite John Goodman and Ed Asner in one season sitcom Center of the Universe in 2004-05.

Dukakis released an autobiography, Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress, in 2003. In 2018, a feature-length documentary about her life, titled Olympia, was also released.

Survivors include her children Christina, Peter and Stefan.

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