Olympia Dukakis, the actor best known for her Oscar-winning role in the 1987 film “Moonstruck,” as well as for her performance as Anna Madrigal in both the original 1993 miniseries adaptation of the San Francisco-based book series “Tales of the City,” along with its 2019 Netflix reboot, has died at the age of 89. As publications like The Hollywood Reporter confirmed on May 1, the news of Dukakis’ death was first announced by her brother, Apollo, who delivered the somber news through a Facebook post. “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her [husband] Louis,” read the statement, referring to her husband, Louis Zorich, who died in 2018. As of the time of this writing, it is unclear as to what the source of her failing health was.
Dukakis, whose entertainment career spanned nearly six decades, became a household name later in life upon the release of “Moonstruck,” in which she stared opposite the iconic multi-hyphenate Cher and actor Nicolas Cage. But despite her years-long journey to get to that point, what preceded it and what followed after her Academy Award win speaks volumes to how Dukakis will be remembered more for her life than her death. Keep on scrolling to find out about it.
The death of Olympia Dukakis is the final chapter of a rich, captivating life
As The Hollywood Reporter summarized in their report of the death of Olympia Dukakis, the Massachusetts-born actor was already an entertainment veteran by the time she received her first Oscar nomination for her role in “Moonstruck.” In total, Dukakis appeared in 130 stage plays, 50 television shows, and more than 60 full-length features since she entered the industry in 1961.
Despite her veteran status upon the Norman Jewison-directed movie’s release, Dukakis, then in her mid-50s, had yet to achieve a sense of security through her craft. As Dukakis recounted in the 2013 “Olympia Dukakis: Undefined” (via THR), her daughter “was going to college on credit cards when ‘Moonstruck’ hit,” adding humbly that before that point, Dukakis “didn’t know about acting, I didn’t know about anything.”
Dukakis later secured her status as a powerhouse on the screen in the original 1993 television miniseries “Tales of the City.” Though her character, Anna Madrigal, is a transgender woman — a casting choice that speaks to the time in which the show aired — Dukakis later spoke of the role as a defining one in her career. “To have your voice silenced, to not be able to be able to speak and be who you are … Who doesn’t know about that?” she recalled in a 2015 interview with the A.V. Club. She later reprised the role in 2019, which would be one of her last.
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