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Olympia Dukakis Dies: ‘Moonstruck’ Oscar Winner Was 89

The beloved screen and stage actress passed away on Saturday morning, as confirmed by her brother Apollo Dukakis.

Actress Olympia Dukakis attends the 'Big Drive' New York Premiere at Angelika Film Center in New York, NY, on October 15, 2014. (Photo by Anthony Behar/Sipa USA)

Olympia Dukakis

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA

Beloved screen and stage actress Olympia Dukakis died May 1 at the age of 89. The news of the Oscar winner’s passing was shared by her brother, Apollo Dukakis, on Facebook. “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. Her husband, actor Louis Zorich, died in 2018 at the age of 93.

Olympia Dukakis starred in more than 130 stage productions, as well as more than 60 films and 50 television series. She won her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1988 for her role in “Moonstruck” as Rose Castorini. She won a Golden Globe for the film as well, and received Emmy Award nominations for “Lucky Day” (1991), “More Tales of the City” (1998), and “Joan of Arc” (1999). She released an autobiography, “Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress,” in 2003. Last year, a feature-length documentary about her life, titled “Olympia,” was also released in the U.S.

Her other film credits include “Steel Magnolias,” “Away from Her,” “In the Land of Women,” “Working Girl,” “The Cemetery Club,” “Look Who’s Talking Now,” “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” “7 Chinese Brothers,” and many more. She also starred in the TV series “Tales of the City,” “Switch,” “Forgive Me,” “Bored to Death,” “Center of the Universe,” and “Search for Tomorrow.”

At a Sarasota Film Festival tribute in 2016, Dukakis talked about the influential role director Norman Jewison’s “Moonstruck” had on her life as an actress, and how the film made her a star in her late 50s. She said up until that point in her career, “My daughter was going to college on credit cards. I was doing every TV movie I could get my hands on. My husband had been in a terrible accident and for five years he didn’t work. I was hustling. It was not a pretty picture.” Dukakis said that during filming, Jewison predicted that she would win an Academy Award for “Moonstruck.” But Dukakis said she wasn’t stirred by the sentiment. “Only out of respect, I didn’t say, ‘You’re an idiot,’ ” she said. “Win an Academy Award for playing Rose? I don’t think so. And it turned out that he was right.”

Along with her film honors, she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1963 for her Off-Broadway performance in Bertolt Brecht’s “Man Equals Man.”

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