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Olympia Dukakis, Oscar-Winning ‘Moonstruck’ Actress, Dead at 89

Olympia Dukakis, the Oscar-winning actress best known for her roles in Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias, has died at the age of 89.

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The actress’ brother Apollo Dukakis announced his sister’s death on Facebook Saturday. No cause of death was revealed.

“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” he wrote. “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis [Zorich, Dukakis’ husband of 55 years who died in January 2018].”

Olympia Dukakis brought warmth, humor and wit to the stage and screen for almost 60 years, including a stellar run of unforgettable roles in ‘Steel Magnolias’ ‘Tales of the City’ and ‘Moonstruck,’ for which she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar,” the Academy tweeted. “She will be missed.”

Dukakis was June 20th, 1931 in Lowell, Masschussetts, the daughter of Greek immigrants. After receiving a master degree in fine arts from Boston University, Dukakis first made her impact on the stage: She won a Obie Award in 1963 for her performance in Man Equals Man.

Despite her success on the stage, over the first two decades of her career, Dukakis was primarily cast in bit parts in films and television. Stardom, however, arrived seemingly overnight after Dukakis was cast as the Italian-American mother of Cher’s character in the 1987 comedy Moonstruck.

Playing matriarch Rose Castorini in the film, Dukakis earned accolades for her performance, which resulted in Best Supporting Actress wins at both the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes.

(As Entertainment Weekly notes, around the same time Dukakis was nominated for an Oscar, her cousin Michael Dukakis was the Democratic candidate in the 1988 presidential election. She won, he didn’t.)

Following another small role as a personnel director in the 1988 comedy Working Girl, Dukakis appeared alongside an all-star ensemble in 1989’s Steel Magnolias, as well as the comedy Look’s Who Talking.

During the 1990s, Dukakis earned three Emmy nominations for her television roles, including for 1992’s Sinatra miniseries (she played Dolly Sinatra) and the 1998 TV movie More Tales of the City. The latter was the second installment in a series of TV movies based on the works of author Armistead Maupin, with Dukakis in the role of the landlord Anna Madrigal. The actress played that character in three TV movies over a decade-long span, as well as reprised the role when Tales of the City was turned into a Netflix miniseries in 2019.

This story is developing.

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