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Olympia Dukakis

Olympia Dukakis

American actress
Olympia Dukakis
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro American actress
Was Actor Television actor Film actor Stage actor
From United States of America
Type Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender female
Birth 20 June 1931, Lowell, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 1 May 2021, New York City, New York, USA (aged 89 years)
Star sign Gemini
Politics Democratic Party
Spouse: Louis Zorich (1962-)
Relatives: Michael Dukakis
Height: 1.6002 m
Boston University College of Fine Arts Master of Arts
Arlington High School
Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress 1988
The details (from wikipedia)


Olympia Mary Dukakis (Greek: Ολυμπία Δουκάκη; June 20, 1931 – May 1, 2021) was a Greek-American actress, director, producer, teacher, and activist. She performed in over 130 stage productions, over 60 films, and in 50 television series. Best known as a screen actress, she started her career in theater. Not long after her arrival in New York City, she won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1963 for her Off-Broadway performance in Bertolt Brecht's Man Equals Man.

She later moved to film acting and won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, among other accolades, for her performance in Moonstruck (1987). She received another Golden Globe nomination for Sinatra (1992) and Emmy Award nominations for Lucky Day (1991), More Tales of the City (1998), and Joan of Arc (1999). In July 2003, Dukakis' autobiography, Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress, was released and praised. In 2020, a feature-length documentary about her life, titled Olympia, was released theatrically in the United States.

Early life

Olympia Dukakis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, the daughter of Alexandra "Alec" (née Christos) (1898–1994) and Constantine "Costa" S. Dukakis (1899–1975). Her parents were Greek emigrants, her father originally from Anatolia and her mother from the Peloponnese. She had a brother named Apollo, six years her junior. As a girl, she dominated in sports and was a three-time New England fencing champion. She contended with pressures within her patriarchal Greek family and around her "in a neighborhood where ethnic discrimination, particularly against Greeks, was routine." She was an alumna of Arlington High School in Arlington, Massachusetts, and was educated at Boston University where she majored in Physical Therapy, achieving a BA, which she made use of when treating patients with polio during the epidemic. She later returned to B.U. and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree.



Dukakis at the 1998 Emmy Awards

Dukakis appeared in a number of films, including Steel Magnolias, Mr. Holland's Opus, Jane Austen's Mafia!, The Thing About My Folks, and Moonstruck, for which she won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. She also played the role of Anna Madrigal in the Tales of the City television mini-series, which garnered her an Emmy Award nomination, and appeared on Search for Tomorrow as Dr. Barbara Moreno (1983), who romanced Stu Bergman. She appeared as Dolly Sinatra in the mini-series of Frank Sinatra's life (1992).

Moonstruck (1987) was directed by Norman Jewison who predicted Olympia would receive honors for the role. She believed him after receiving the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. In addition to her Oscar, she took the Golden Globe in the same category. The honors compounded as she collected the Los Angeles and New York Film Critics Awards, all in recognition of her talent, some acting improvised, as she delivered a serious while hilarious performance. The role of a no-nonsense matriarch, Rose Castorini, plays off Cher's Best Actress Award-winning role as daughter Loretta. She was nominated for the Canadian Academy Award for The Event (2003) and in the middle of the first decade of the 21st century, her roles included 3 Needles, The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines, In the Land of Women, and Away From Her, the 2006 film which cast her alongside Gordon Pinsent as the spouses of two Alzheimer's patients.

She took on powerful roles on the small screen as well. In 1998, she starred as Charlotte Kiszko in the British TV drama A Life for a Life: The True Story of Stefan Kiszko (ITV), based on the actual story of a man wrongfully imprisoned for seventeen years for the murder of a child, Lesley Molseed, after police suppressed evidence of his innocence. In another genre entirely, she provided the voice of Grandpa's love interest for The Simpsons episode "The Old Man and the Key" (2002).

In 2008, Dukakis directed the world premiere production of Todd Logan's "Botanic Garden" at Victory Gardens Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. That same year she starred in the revival of Tennessee Williams' The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore, opposite Kevin Anderson at the Hartford Stage, and co-adapted and starred in the world-premiere of Another Side of the Island, based on Shakespeare's The Tempest, at Alpine Theatre Project in Whitefish, Montana.

In 2011, Dukakis guest-starred on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. She played the role of Debby Marsh, an attorney. In 2013, she starred in and executive-produced the 2013 film Montana Amazon, co-starring Haley Joel Osment; that same year, on May 24, she was honored with the 2,498th star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame located at 6233 Hollywood Boulevard, in the category of Live Theater.

In 2018, Olympia Dukakis starred in Eleftheromania, which follows an Auschwitz survivor as she recites a true story about a group from the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp. The following year, Dukakis reprised the role of Anna Madrigal, which she had first played in 1993, in a Netflix update of Armistead Maupin's Tales of The City.

Olympia Dukakis rides up Market Street as one of the Celebrity Grand Marshals in the LGBT Pride Parade in San Francisco on June 26, 2011, from the film, Olympia.

In 2018, Olympia, an American documentary film about her life and career had its festival premiere at DOC NYC. The film, directed by Harry Mavromichalis, features Whoopi Goldberg, Laura Linney, Ed Asner, Lainie Kazan, Armistead Maupin, Austin Pendleton, Diane Ladd, and her cousin Governor Michael Dukakis. It was released theatrically in the United States on July 9, 2020 and on VOD March 23, 2021.

In 2021, Dukakis appears in the film Not To Forget, which aims to raise awareness and funds for the fight against Alzheimer's. The movie, directed by Valerio Zanoli, stars Karen Grassle and five Academy Award winners: Olympia Dukakis, Cloris Leachman, Louis Gossett Jr., Tatum O’Neal, and George Chakiris.


Prior to her fame on the big screen, Dukakis began her decades-long stage life working in 1961 in productions at the Williamstown Summer Theater, in a town found in the very top left corner of Massachusetts. Once out of that corner of New England and hitting the pavement of the Great White Way, it didn't take long for her to be recognized for her talent and skill. In 1963, Dukakis' early life Off-Broadway was rewarded with an Obie Award for Distinguished Performance, as Widow Leocadia Begbick in Man Equals Man (aka, A Man's A Man). But her stage work began across the summer of 1961, in productions at the Williamstown Summer Theatre, she continued to perform there every few years, with her last appearance on that stage occurring in 2003, where she played multiple roles in The Chekov Cycle. In 1963, she began a life of both stage and screen. Transitioning to a professional life centered in New York City, she performed many times in productions in Central Park at the renowned Delacorte Theater. Returning to Western Massachusetts in 2013 for her last stage performance, she played Mother Courage in Mother Courage and Her Children at Shakespeare & Company, in Lenox, Massachusetts.

With her husband, Louis Zorich, and with other acting couples, she co-founded the Whole Theater Company. The company's first play was Our Town, in 1973. With Dukakis serving as Artistic Director, the theater rolled out five productions a season over almost two decades. Across that span, productions included the works of Euripides, Eugene O'Neill, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, and received critical praise. Among the actors performing with Olympia and Louis were Jose Ferrer, Colleen Dewhurst, Blythe Danner, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Dukakis' prolific stage directing credits include many of the classics: Orpheus Descending, The House of Bernarda Alba, Uncle Vanya, and A Touch of the Poet, as well as the more contemporary; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Kennedy's Children. She also adapted such plays as "Mother Courage" and The Trojan Women for her Montclair, New Jersey situated theater company. Her Broadway theatre credits include Who's Who in Hell and Social Security. She appeared in Martin Sherman's one-woman play, Rose, entirely a monologue about a woman who survived the Warsaw Ghetto, in London and then on Broadway. For the role, she won the 2000 Outer Critics Circle Awards for Outstanding Solo Performance. Twenty-two years after earning her first Obie, she won her second in 1985, a Performance Award, for playing Soot Hudlocke in The Marriage of Bette and Boo.

Personal life

In 1962, Olympia Dukakis married the fellow Manhattan theater actor, the Yugoslav-American Louis Zorich. Planning for a family, they moved out of the city in 1970 to settle in Montclair, New Jersey. It was there they raised their three children: Christina, Peter, and Stefan. She and Louis had three grandchildren.

In her 2003 national bestselling autobiography, Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress, she describes the challenges she faced as a first-generation Greek-American in an area with anti-Greek ethnic bigotry, violence, and discrimination; difficulties with her mother and in other relationships; and battles with substances and chronic illness. But her life off the screen and stage was very active. She taught acting for 15 years at NYU, and gave master classes for professional theatre universities, colleges, and companies across the country. She received the National Arts Club Medal of Honor and, in 2013, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

For 10 years, until Indian mentor Srimata Gayatri Devi died, she studied with him in the Vedanta school of Hindu philosophy. A strong advocate for Women's Rights and LGBTQ Rights, including same-sex marriage, she embraced the roles of a trans landlady in Tales of the City, and a butch lesbian in Cloudburst. She was a figure on the lecture circuit discussing topics such as women living with chronic illness, life in the theater, the environment, and feminism. She is quoted as having said, "I recognize that the real pulse of life is transformation, yet I work in a world dominated by men and the things men value, where transformation is not the coinage. It's not even the language!" She taught acting at NYU and gave master classes for professional theatre companies, colleges, and universities across the United States.


Dukakis died at her home in New York City on May 1, 2021, at the age of 89.


Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1964 Twice a Man Young mother
1964 Lilith Patient Uncredited
1969 Stiletto Mrs. Amato Uncredited
1969 John and Mary John's mother
1971 Made for Each Other Mrs. Panimba
1973 Sisters Louise Wilanski Uncredited
1974 Death Wish Officer Gemetti Listed in opening credits only
1974 The Rehearsal
1979 The Wanderers Joey's Mom
1979 Rich Kids Lawyer
1980 The Idolmaker Mrs. Vacarri
1982 National Lampoon Goes to the Movies Helena Naxos Segment: "Success Wanters"
1985 Walls of Glass Mary Flanagan
1987 Moonstruck Rose Castorini Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Female Performer – Motion Picture or TV
Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
National Board of Review Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
1988 Working Girl Personnel Director
1989 Look Who's Talking Rosie
1989 Steel Magnolias Clairee Belcher Nominated—American Comedy Award for Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture
1989 Dad Bette Tremont
1990 In the Spirit Sue
1990 Look Who's Talking Too Rosie
1992 Over the Hill Alma Harris
1993 The Cemetery Club Doris Silverman
1993 Digger Bea
1993 Look Who's Talking Now Rosie
1994 Dead Badge Dr. Doris Rice
1994 The Naked Gun 33 ⅓: The Final Insult Herself Uncredited
1994 I Love Trouble Jeannie
1995 Jeffrey Mrs. Marcangelo
1995 Mighty Aphrodite Jocasta
1995 Mr. Holland's Opus Principal Helen Jacobs
1996 Mother Mrs. Jay
1996 Jerusalem Mrs. Gordon
1996 Milk & Money Goneril Plogg
1997 Balkan Island: The Last Story of the Century Mother
1997 Picture Perfect Rita Mosley
1998 Mafia! Sophia Cortino
1998 Better Living Nora
2000 Brooklyn Sonnet Helen Manners
2002 The Intended Erina
2003 The Event Lila Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film
Nominated—Genie Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
2003 Charlie's War Charlie
2005 The Great New Wonderful Judy Hillerman Segment: "Judy's Story"
2005 The Thing About My Folks Muriel Kleinman
2005 3 Needles Hilde
2005 Whiskey School Ellen Haywood
2005 Jesus, Mary and Joey Sophia Vitello
2006 Away from Her Marian
2006 Day on Fire Dr. Mary Wade
2006 Upside Out Dr. Walker
2007 In the Land of Women Phyllis
2011 Cloudburst Stella Nominated—Seattle International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
2011 Outliving Emily Emily Hanratty Short film
2013 Montana Amazon Ira Dunderhead Also executive producer
2013 The Last Keepers Rosmarie Carver
2013 A Little Game YaYa
2015 7 Chinese Brothers Grandma
2015 Emily & Tim Emily Segment: "6"
2016 The Infiltrator Aunt Vicky
2016 Broken Links Arlene
2018 Change in the Air Margaret Lemke
2019 Olympia Herself DOC NYC, Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival
2021 Not To Forget Judge
Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1962 The Nurses Ioana Chiriac Episode: "Frieda"
1962 Dr. Kildare Anna Nieves Episode: "The Legacy"
1974 Nicky's World Irene Kaminios Television film
1975 Great Performances Pauline Episode: "The Seagull"
1977 The Andros Targets Marina Angelis Episode: "The Beast of Athens"
1980 FDR: The Final Years Television film
1980 Breaking Away Episode: "The Cutters"
1982 American Playhouse Mama Nicola Episode: "King of America"
1982 One of the Boys Professor Episode: "His Cheatin' Heart"
1982 The Neighborhood Mrs. St. Paul Television film
1983 Search for Tomorrow Dr. Barbara Moreno Television series
1986 The Equalizer Judge Paula G. Walsh Episode: "Shades of Darkness"
1991 Lucky Day Katherine Campbell Television film
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1991 The General Motors Playwrights Theater Laura Cunningham Episode: "The Last Act Is a Solo"
1991 Fire in the Dark Emily Miller Television film
1992 Sinatra Dolly Sinatra Television miniseries
4 episodes
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
1993 Tales of the City Anna Madrigal Television miniseries
6 episodes
Nominated—British Academy Television Award for Best Actress
1995 Young at Heart Rose Garaventi Television film
1996 Touched by an Angel Clara Episode: "A Joyful Noise"
1997 Heaven Will Wait Diana Television film
1997 A Match Made in Heaven Helen Rosner Television film
1998 Scattering Dad Molly Television film
1998 The Pentagon Wars Madam Chairwoman Television film
1998 More Tales of the City Anna Madrigal Television miniseries
6 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
1998 A Life for a Life Charlotte Kiszko Television film
1999 Joan of Arc Mother Babette Television miniseries
3 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
2000 The Last of the Blonde Bombshells Dinah Television film
2001 And Never Let Her Go Marguerite Capano Television film
2001 Ladies and the Champ Sara Stevens Television film
2001 Further Tales of the City Anna Madrigal Television miniseries
3 episodes
2001 My Beautiful Son Esther Lipman Television film
2002 Guilty Hearts Amanda Patterson Television film
2002 The Simpsons Zelda (voice) Episode: "The Old Man and the Key"
2002 Frasier Caller #3 (voice) Episode: "Frasier Has Spokane"
2003 Mafia Doctor Rose Television film
2003 It's All Relative Coleen O'Neil Episode: "Thanks, But No Thanks"
2004 The Librarian: Quest for the Spear Margie Carsen Television film
2004–2005 Center of the Universe Marge Barnett 12 episodes
2006 Numbers Charlotte Yates Episode: "Hot Shot"
2006 The Librarian: Return to King Solomon's Mines Margie Carsen Television film
2008 Worst Week June Episodes: "The Ring", "The Wedding"
2010–2011 Bored to Death Belinda 4 episodes
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Debby Marsh Episode: "Pop"
2013 The Christmas Spirit Gwen Hollander Television film
2013–2015 Sex & Violence Alex Mandalakis Television miniseries
Also executive producer
12 episodes
2013–2015 Forgive Me Novalea 9 episodes
2013 Mike & Molly Narrator on TV Episode: "The Princess and the Troll"
2014 F to 7th Marie Television series
Episode: "Down to Zero"
2014 Big Driver Doreen Television film
2016 TripTank Ma / Caller (voice) 4 episodes
2019 Tales of the City Anna Madrigal Main cast
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 01 May 2021. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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