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Olympia Dukakis (1931–2021), Academy Award winner for “Moonstruck”

by Linnea Crowther

Olympia Dukakis was an actress who was known for her role as Cher’s mother in “Moonstruck.”

Acting career

Dukakis won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance in “Moonstruck” (1987), her first major film role. But she was already an established stage actress when she played Rose Castorini. Dukakis won an Obie Award in 1963 for “Man Equals Man” and co-founded the Whole Theater Company in 1973. She went on to memorable roles in movies including “Steel Magnolias” (1989), “Look Who’s Talking” (1989) and its sequels, and “Mr. Holland’s Opus” (1995). On TV, she played Dolly Sinatra, Frank Sinatra’s mother, in the 1992 miniseries “Sinatra.” Dukakis was also a star of the four “Tales of the City” miniseries, playing Anna Madrigal and earning an Emmy nomination for 1998’s “More Tales of the City.” She was the cousin of former Massachusetts governor and presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

Notable quote

“Growing up I was always feeling like an outsider, being Greek in communities that were not very ethnic. I felt like an outsider in the Greek community, too, because women were expected to behave and socialize in a certain way, and I didn’t. Also being an actor I felt like an outsider, because not many Greek American women were actors then. But once you realize that you are an outsider, there can be a freedom in that. You can find your own way.” —from a 2007 interview with Broadway World


Tributes to Olympia Dukakis

Full obituary: The New York Times

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