Award-winning film and theater actress Olympia Dukakis dies at 89


Film and theater actress Olympia Dukakis died on Saturday, as her family first reported and confirmed by the Associated press. Although no cause of death was given, she had been in poor health for a few months. Successful actress on stage since the 1960s, her performance as the Italian-American wise mother Rose Castorini in the 1987 film Dreamer brought him a new level of fame and also won him the Oscar. She was 89 years old.

The daughter of Greek immigrants, Dukakis, born in Lowell, Massachusetts, attended Boston University and studied physiotherapy. This line of work took her across the country during a polio outbreak, but then returned to UB to earn a master’s degree in theater. She moved to New York City in 1959 and began acting Off-Broadway, as well as landing roles in television series like Dr Kildare. She won an Obie Award in 1963 for his role in Berthold Brecht A man is a man, and played more than his actual age as a Dustin HoffmanPeter Yates’ mother in the 1969 film John and Mary, and as the mother of Joseph Bologna in the 1971 film Made for each other, one of the many projects that Bologna has co-wrote with his wife Renee taylor.

In an oft-told story, she was cut from another movie that helped her become Dreamer concert. Nora Ephron saw Dukakis in the Off-Broadway production of Christopher Durangof Bette and Boo’s wedding, and felt she was perfect for the role of Meryl Streepthe mother of 1986 in the movie Stomach pains, which she and Mike Nichols were adapting from her book. Nichols eventually pulled his scenes, but to make up for it, he chose Dukakis as Sophie Greengrass in Andrew Bergmangame of Social Security, which he performed on Broadway. Director Norman Jewison saw her in this role and knew he had found his Rose Castorini.

Dreamer, directed by Jewison and written by John patrick shanley was and remains a sensation. Its stature as one of the finest romantic comedies ever made is due in large part to Dukakis and his world-weary delivery of love-covered truth bombs. He won Oscars for Dukakis, Shanley and, of course, Expensive, in the lead role. Jewison and Vincent Gardenia were also nominated, as was the film itself for Best Picture. (He lost to The last emperor and competed against News broadcast, Hope and glory, and Fatal attraction. What year !!!)

When Dukakis retrieved her statue, she concluded her speech by shouting “okay, Michael, let’s go!”

It was in reference to his first cousin, Michael dukakis, who at the time was a presidential candidate but ultimately lost to George HW Bush.

She also thanked her husband, actor Louis Zorich, an actor with a slew of credits ranging from violin on the roof at The Muppets take Manhattan, as well as a recurring role as Paul reiserthe father of Crazy of you. Dukakis and Zorich founded the Whole theater company in Montclair, New Jersey together in 1973. (She was also a founding member of The Charles Playhouse In Boston.)

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