Olympia Dukakis, who won an Academy Award for her role in “Moonstruck,” died Saturday. She was 89.
Dukakis, who also starred in “Steel Magnolia,” “Look Who’s Talking” and “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” died at her home in New York City, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” wrote her brother Apollo, who confirmed Dukakis’ confirmed her death on his Facebook page Saturday. “After many months of failing health, she is finally at peace and with her (husband) Louis (Zorich).”
The cause of death has yet to be determined.
Dukakis became famous in 1988 via her Academy Award role as Cher’s mother in “Moonstruck,” and also because of her cousin, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who won the Democratic nomination in the 1988 presidential election. During her Oscars acceptance speech, she ended her remarks by shouting, “OK, Michael, let’s go!”
Dukakis was 56 when she starred in “Moonstruck” in 1987 as Rose Castorini, Cher’s mother. Her daughter, Loretta (Cher) was a young widow who fell in love with her brother’s fiance, played by Nicolas Cage.
Dukakis was a scene-stealer with her clear-eyed world view, the Times reported.
“Do you love him, Loretta?” Rose asks her daughter, referring to Cage’s character. When Loretta says no, Rose replies: “Good. When you love them, they drive you crazy, because they know they can.”
The fun part is that people pass me on the street and yell lines from my movies,” Dukakis told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. “For ‘Moonstruck’ they say, ‘Your life is going down the toilet.’ Or from ‘Dad,’ they say, ‘How much are those pork chops?’ They say, ‘Do you know who you are?’ It’s real funny.”
Dukakis said her iconic toilet line was improvised based on experiences with her own mother, the newspaper reported.
Dukakis played a Southern widow in 1989′s “Steel Magnolias” and the mother of Kirstie Alley’s character in the three “Look Who’s Talking” movies between 1989 and 1993. She also played Frank Sinatra’s mother in the 1992 television movie, “Sinatra,” The New York Times reported.
Dukakis was born on June 20, 1931, in Lowell, Massachusetts, the older of two children of Greek immigrants, the newspaper reported. Her father worked in various settings, including a munitions factory, a printing business and the quality control department of Lever Brothers. He also founded an amateur theater company.
She graduated from Boston University with a degree in physical therapy and practiced that occupation, traveling to West Virginia, Minnesota and Texas during the worst days of the polio epidemic, The New York Times reported. She earned enough money to return to Boston University to study theater.
Dukakis’ first television role came in 1962 on “Dr. Kildare.” Her first movie role was an uncredited one as a psychiatric patient in “Lilith” in 1964.