Olympia Dukakis, the beloved “Moonstruck” Oscar-winning Greek American actress, has died at the age of 89 on Saturday.
The world learned of Dukakis’ passing from her brother Apollo in a Facebook post. He said that she died peacefully at her home in New York City.
Olympia Dukakis Died Peacefully at NYC Home
“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City. After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis,” Apollo wrote, referring to Olympia’s late husband, Louis Zoria.
Olympia Dukakis makes her big Moonstruck break in 1987
Dukakis first became well known for her role in the 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck where she played alongside Cher as the character Rose Castorini. For her role in the movie, Dukakis received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and a number of other awards in 1988.
Other roles that Dukakis was known for was Steel Magnolias in 1989, as the mother of Frank Sinatra in the 1992 movie Sinatra, and was most recently cast in Not to Forget in 2021.
Dukakis took over 28 years to make a name for herself on the big screen. After graduating from Boston University, Dukakis made her first appearance at a stage actress. The first movies she acted in were in 1964, but not in any starring roles.It was only after her role in Moonstruck did Dukakis at age 56 did she rise to fame.
A child of Greek immigrants
Olympia Dukakis was born in Lowell, Massachusets on June 20 1931, the child of Greek immigrants with roots in Anatolia and Peloponnese.
Her connections to her Greek roots were always in the background through her career. Dukakis was a long time supporter of the Greek American Foundation, and this organization provided the $30,000 funds to get her name on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2013.
Dukakis was approached to play a role Nia Vardalos’ 2002 hit “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” but she declined. At the time she cited a scheduling conflict, but later admitted she was not enthusiastic about the role.
Olympia Dukakis had a family relationship to another famous Greek American in Michael Dukakis, the former governor of Massachusetts who ran for president in 1988. The two were first cousins and they both received a famous nomination the same year – Olympia for her role in Moonstruck and Michael as Democratic nominees for President of the United States.
However, that year only Olympia won in her category. Michael Dukakis would lose that year’s election to 41st President of the United States George H.W Bush.