Though already an accomplished actress, Olympia Dukakis did not find fame until she was 56-years-old thanks to her award-winning performance in the romantic comedy classic "Moonstruck." In the 1987 film she played Rose Castorini who lovingly meddled in the life of her widowed daughter, even as she worried about a straying husband. Her stellar turn as the Italian matriarch earned her an Academy Award for supporting actress, as well as a Golden Globe plus a BAFTA nomination.
Dukakis, the daughter of Greek immigrants, graduated from Boston University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in physical therapy and an MFA in performing arts. She is the cousin of former Massachusetts governor and one-time presidential candidate, Michael Dukakis. Though she didn’t become widely known until "Moonstruck," East Coast theater-goers witnessed her onstage talent long before that. She made her Broadway debut in "The Aspern Papers" in 1962, and it was her work in the Broadway comedy "Social Security" (1986) that caught "Moonstruck" director Norman Jewison’s eye.
In both her film and television careers, Dukakis was frequently cast in motherly roles that called for wisdom and strength. Prime examples were notable films like "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "The Cemetery Club" (1993) and "Mr. Holland’s Opus" (1995). Her television works include "Tales of the City" (1993) and its sequel, which earned her an Emmy nomination.
In addition to acting, Dukakis has also worked as a producer, director, teacher, activist and even, writer. She and her husband, Louis Zorich, opened the Whole Theatre Company in Montclair, N.J., in the early 1970s and ran it for nearly 20 years. In 2003, she published her bestselling autobiography, "Ask Me Again Tomorrow: A Life in Progress."
More recent acting credits include "Away From Her" (2006), "In the Land of Women" (2007), and the one-woman play, "Rose," in which she portrays an 80-year-old Ukrainian Jew looking back on her life.
Dukakis and her husband were married in 1962 and have three children.
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