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Olympia Dukakis

Olympia Dukakis

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: June 20, 1931 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Lowell, Massachusetts, USA Profession: actor, theater administrator, drama teacher, physical therapist

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Having long established herself as a respected stage actress and veteran performer in dozens of film and television projects, Olympia Dukakis achieved overnight stardom at the tender age of 56 with her Oscar-winning portrayal in "Moonstruck" (1987). Originally intending to become a physical therapist, Dukakis turned to acting with work on and off-Broadway in productions such as "The Aspern Papers" and "A Man's a Man." Never the ingénue, Dukakis quickly found herself portraying young mothers in films that included "John and Mary" (1969) and "Made for Each Other" (1971). The pattern continued with features like "The Wanderers" (1979) and "The Idolmaker" (1980) until "Moonstruck" placed her at the top of the casting agent's wish list. A slew of roles in high-profile feature films followed, including turns in "Working Girl" (1988), "Look Who's Talking" (1989) and "Steel Magnolias" (1989). Occasional starring roles also presented themselves, as with the comedy-drama "The Cemetery Club" (1993). On television she essayed the character of Mrs. Madrigal in "Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City'" (PBS, 1993) and its two sequel miniseries, and achieved true pop culture status when she voiced Grandpa Simpson's...

Having long established herself as a respected stage actress and veteran performer in dozens of film and television projects, Olympia Dukakis achieved overnight stardom at the tender age of 56 with her Oscar-winning portrayal in "Moonstruck" (1987). Originally intending to become a physical therapist, Dukakis turned to acting with work on and off-Broadway in productions such as "The Aspern Papers" and "A Man's a Man." Never the ingénue, Dukakis quickly found herself portraying young mothers in films that included "John and Mary" (1969) and "Made for Each Other" (1971). The pattern continued with features like "The Wanderers" (1979) and "The Idolmaker" (1980) until "Moonstruck" placed her at the top of the casting agent's wish list. A slew of roles in high-profile feature films followed, including turns in "Working Girl" (1988), "Look Who's Talking" (1989) and "Steel Magnolias" (1989). Occasional starring roles also presented themselves, as with the comedy-drama "The Cemetery Club" (1993). On television she essayed the character of Mrs. Madrigal in "Armistead Maupin's 'Tales of the City'" (PBS, 1993) and its two sequel miniseries, and achieved true pop culture status when she voiced Grandpa Simpson's love interest in a 2002 episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ). Living proof that one was never too old to reinvent oneself, the scene-stealing actress continued to delight audiences in a variety of mediums for over four decades.

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
 Outliving Emily (2014)
3.
 Big Driver (2014)
4.
5.
 Whiskey School (2007)
7.
 Away From Her (2006)
8.
 Day on Fire (2006)
9.
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1957:
Founding member of the Charles Street Playhouse, Boston, Massachusetts
1960:
Off-Broadway debut, "The Breaking Wall"
1961:
Began affiliation with the Williamstown Theatre Festival
1962:
Broadway debut, "The Aspern Papers"
1964:
Feature film debut in "Lilith"
1964:
Appeared in Gregory Markopoulos's experimental film "Twice a Man"
:
Taught acting at New York University
:
Founding member and artistic director of The Whole Theater Company, Montclair, New Jersey
1974:
TV-movie debut in "Nicky's World"
:
Returned to NYU to teach acting
:
Appeared regularly on the NBC daytime drama "Search for Tomorrow"
1987:
Breakthrough film role, Rose Castorini, in Norman Jewison's "Moonstruck"
1989:
Had featured role in the ensemble of "Steel Magnolias"
1989:
First played Kirstie Alley's mother in "Look Who's Talking"; reprised part in two sequels
1991:
Portrayed an aging actress desperate for a comeback in "The Last Act Is a Solo" (A&E)
1991:
Received first Emmy nomination for her supporting performance as the alcoholic mother of a mentally-challenged woman who has won the lottery in "Luck Day" (ABC)
1992:
Cast as matriarch Dolly Sinatra in the CBS miniseries "Sinatra"
1993:
Had rare lead as a Jewish widow in "The Cemetery Club"
1994:
Portrayed Anna Madrigal, the landlady with a penchant for growing marijuana, in "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City" (PBS)
1995:
Made cameo appearance as the mother of a transsexual in "Jeffrey"
1995:
Appeared on stage as "Hecuba" in a translation by Timberlake Wertenbaker
1995:
Played the tough principal who mentors Richard Dreyfuss' music teacher in "Mr. Holland's Opus"
1996:
Returned to the NYC stages in the off-Broadway production of "The Hope Zone"
1997:
Appeared as Jennifer Aniston's mother in "Picture Perfect"
1998:
Undertook the role of Queen Lear in a distaff retelling of Shakespeare's classic in the stage production "The Lear Project"
1998:
Reprised Anna Madrigal in the Showtime sequel "Armistead Maupin's More Tales of the City"; received Emmy nomination
1999:
Offered a potent cameo in the CBS miniseries "Joan of Arc"; netted third Emmy nomination
1999:
Made London stage debut in one-person show "Rose", a drama about a Holocaust survivor written by Martin Sherman; opened on Broadway in spring 2000
2000:
Co-starred with Judi Dench in "The Last of the Blonde Bombshells" (HBO), playing an alcoholic saxophone player
2001:
Had leading role in Timberlake Wertenbaker's stage play "Credible Witness" in London
2001:
Reprised Anna Madrigal in "Armistead Maupin's Further Tales of the City" (Showtime)
2002:
Co-starred with Janet McTeer and Brenda Fricker in "Innocence," directed by Kristian Levering
2004:
Cast in the CBS comedy "Center of the Universe" opposite John Goodman and Ed Asner
2005:
Cast in "The Thing About My Folks" penned by and co-starring Paul Reiser
2006:
Co-starred in "3 Needles," one of three short stories about the global HIV pandemic, directed by Thom Fitzgerald
2007:
Co-starred with Adam Brody and Meg Ryan in Jonathan Kasdan's directorial debut "In the Land of Women"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Sargent College, Boston University: Boston , Massachusetts - 1953
Boston University: Boston , Massachusetts - 1957

Notes

In college, Dukakis was the New England fencing champion.

She received an honorary doctorate from Boston University in 2000.

"People have this fantasy of Greeks smashing plates and dancing. They really are much more introspective, a very nose-to-the-grindstone people." --Dukakis in Premiere, February 1988.

On her role in "Moonstruck", Dukakis was quoted in TheaterWeek (January 1-7, 1996): "I had no idea what that role would end up meaning to me. All I knew was that it was a good part, good money, and good people to work with."

"I don't turn down a lot of film work, either. I like to work, so I decided that just because projects came that didn't fulfill all my criteria, that didn't necessarily mean I shouldn't do them. When that kind of work is coming my way, I figure I shouldn't question it too much." --Dukakis in TheaterWeek, January 1-7, 1996.

Companions close complete companion listing

husband:
Louis Zorich. Actor. Married on December 5, 1962.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Constantine Dukakis. Manager. Greek immigrant.
mother:
Alexandra Dukakis. Greek immigrant.
brother:
Apollo Dukakis. Actor.
cousin:
Michael Dukakis. Politician. Former governor of Massachusetts and former candidate for the US Presidency.
daughter:
Christina Zorich. Actor.
son:
Peter Zorich. Co-founded a line of food products called "Famous Fixins".
son:
Stefan Zorich.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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