Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis has died aged 89

·3-min read
Photo credit: Theo Wargo - Getty Images
Photo credit: Theo Wargo - Getty Images

Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis has died aged 89, her family has announced.

The Hollywood star - who won an Academy Award for her role 1987 romantic comedy Moonstruck - was "at peace" after suffering ill health, her brother wrote in a statement.

"After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her [husband] Louis," brother Apollo wrote on Facebook.

Dukakis had a long and revered career on the stage and silver screen, both as a performer and director. She gained international fame aged 50 after playing Cher's mother in Moonstruck.

Other acting credits around that the mid-80s included tear-jerker classic Steel Magnolias with Julia Roberts, Daryl Hannah and Sally Field, Working Girl with Melanie Griffiths, and Look Who's Talking, co-starring Kirstie Alley and John Travolta.

Photo credit: Georges De Keerle - Getty Images
Photo credit: Georges De Keerle - Getty Images

Dukakis was also known for her role as transgender landlady Anna Madrigal in the acclaimed TV series Tales of the City, which returned for a fourth season on Netflix in 2019. She had been Emmy nominated three times for her TV roles in Lucky Day (1991), More Tales of the City (1998) and Joan of Arc (1999).

In addition to acting and directing, Dukakis taught drama at New York University for more than 15 years, and was a founding member of The Charles Playhouse, and the Whole Theatre.

In Moonstruck, Dukakis played interfering Brooklyn matriarch Rose Castorini.

Photo credit: John T. Barr - Getty Images
Photo credit: John T. Barr - Getty Images

Cher paid tribute to the late star in an emotional post on Twitter: "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, 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."

Mia Farrow also honoured Dukakis: "Olympia Dukakis!! gave us so many memorable, GREAT performances. She was the best of the best."

"RIP Olympia Dukakis...the consummate actor. You made all around you step up their game. A joy to work with. Rest well. 'May flights of angels sing thee to thy rest'," Oscar-winner Viola Davis tweeted.

Speaking recently about how the industry is finally moving towards gender equality, Duakis told the Irish News: "I think things are finally moving in the right direction, both for women and for minorities. We are far from reaching our goal but there's a forward movement that's real and strong.

"You're seeing more women as directors and decision-makers and that's a great thing. I'm happy that I've lived a long enough life so I could witness the growth that has occurred."

Dukakis is survived by her three children, Christina, Peter and Stefan.

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