The Academy Award-winning actress Olympia Dukakis, who was known for her work in movies like Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias, died on Saturday in New York City. She was 89 years-old.
Dukakis’ death was confirmed on Facebook by her brother Apollo.
“My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City,” he wrote alongside a photo her. “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis.”
Allison Levy, Dukakis’ rep., also confirmed her death in a brief statement to Entertainment Tonight.
“It is with deep sadness that we confirm the passing of Olympia Dukakis,” she said. “After months of failing health, Olympia Dukakis passed away this morning, May 1st, at her home in New York City, with her daughter Christina Zorich by her side.”
“Olympia was married to actor Louis Zorich, who passed away in 2018,” Levy added. “Her brother Apollo Dukakis, her sons Stefan and Peter Zorich, and four grandchildren thank you for your love, prayers, and kind remembrances during this difficult time.”
Born in Massachusetts in 1931, Dukakis got her start in the theater before she began acting in Hollywood in the 1960s. She spent decades working as a character actress before she became a household name after she won the 1988 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe for her performance as Rose Castorini in Moonstruck, which also starred Cher, Nicolas Cage and Danny Aiello.
Dukakis would go on to receive a 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).
Tributes have been pouring in for Dukakis from various stars since her death.
“Olympia Dukakis Was an Amazing, Academy Award Winning Actress,” Cher wrote on Twitter. “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 3 Wks Ago. Rip Dear One.”
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😂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 pic.twitter.com/RcCZaeKFmz
— Cher (@cher) May 1, 2021
Cher later took to Twitter again to recall her final conversation with Dukakis.
Wrote This Hrs Ago,But Didn’t hit Twt😔.Heard Olympia Was Sick So Called Her Daughter & Said Could I Talk 2 Her.She Said
“She might Not HEAR or SPEAK”.I Called In2 The Receiver”Olympia It’s Cher,I ❤️You”.Remember Moonstruck,She Said
“oh cher,I❣️you”She Was Weak But Happy. RIP O
— Cher (@cher) May 1, 2021
“What can I say but I loved her? Everyone loved her. She was a gift..unique and talented and one of a kind. Rest in peace my friend Olympia,” said Sally Field, who starred in Steel Magnolias with Dukakis.
Many other stars paid tribute to Dukakis as well.
Olympia Dukakis has departed our company. We were Moonstruck by her, as she told us great Tales of the City. A true Steel Magnolia within a more common forest. Ah, what a life force, her later years her best. Rest now among the heavens, Olympia.
— George Takei (@GeorgeTakei) May 1, 2021
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".💛💛💛https://t.co/9uC2Ld4rTU
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 1, 2021
Oh my.. Olympia Dukakis has passed away.. She will forever be young in my mind and be my loving movie mother. When will I learn that people do not live forever & the time to engage is NOW?.. RIP pic.twitter.com/TNWwcjFfu0
— Kirstie Alley (@kirstiealley) May 1, 2021
The New York Times reported that Dukakis once reflected on her success in a 2001 interview.
“Maybe good fortune comes to you for the same reason as bad,” she said at the time. “It’s all about understanding more: You learn a lot of things when you’re struggling, and other things when you’re what the world calls successful. Or perhaps it’s just something that happens. Some days it’s cold, and some days it’s hot.”
Two years later, Dukakis was asked if she ever planned to retire.
“From what?” she replied. “I love this chaotic, contradictory, loving mess that has been my life.”