Olympia Dukakis: Oscar-winning star of Moonstruck dies aged 89

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Dukakis with Cher at the Golden Globes in 1988 - AP
Dukakis with Cher at the Golden Globes in 1988 - AP

Olympia Dukakis, a character actress who won an Oscar for her role as an overbearing mother in the romantic comedy Moonstruck, died Saturday at the age of 89.

The passing of the theatre veteran, who made a name for herself in film late in her career, was confirmed on Facebook by her brother Apollo.

"My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City," he wrote. "After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her [husband] Louis [Zorich]."

The cause of death was not immediately given.

Dukakis won the Oscar for best supporting actress for her work in Moonstruck (1987) as the scornful mother of a young widow played by Cher. It also earned Dukakis a Golden Globe and a BAFTA nomination.

With her cousin, Michael, the governor of Massachusetts who unsuccessfully ran for president - AP
With her cousin, Michael, the governor of Massachusetts who unsuccessfully ran for president - AP

"The fun part is that people pass me on the street and yell lines from my movies: For Moonstruck they say, 'Your life is going down the toilet,'" Dukakis told the Los Angeles Times in 1991. "It's real funny."

Dukakis also won acclaim for her role as a gossip hound at a small town Louisiana hair salon in Steel Magnolias, (1989) which also featured Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, Sally Field and Daryl Hannah.

By 1988, with her Oscar, Dukakis was a household name in America because of the award and because her cousin Michael Dukakis had won the Democratic presidential nomination.

She plugged him in her Oscars acceptance speech, shouting "OK, Michael, let's go" as she concluded her remarks and held up her statuette.

Michael Dukakis ended up losing the election to George HW Bush, but both she and her cousin remained active in politics.

Cher has paid tribute to Dukakis, tweeteing: "Olympia Dukakis Was an Amazing, Academy Award Winning Actress.

"Olympia Played My Mom In Moonstruck,& Even Though Her Part was That Of a Suffering Wife, We [laughed] ALL The Time.

"She Would Tell Me How MUCH She Loved Louis,Her"Handsome Talented,Husband".

"I Talked To Her 3Wks Ago. Rip Dear One."

Olympia Dukakis is survived by the daughter and two sons she had with Zorich, who died in 2018.

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