Oscar-Winning Moonstruck Star Olympia Dukakis Is Dead At 89

Olympia Dukakis as Rose Castorini in Moonstruck (1987)

Olympia Dukakis, the iconic, Oscar-winning actress of film and stage known best for her roles in films like Moonstruck and Steel Magnolias has died. As of this writing, the actress’ cause of death has not officially been confirmed. She was 89 at the time of her passing.

Olympia Dukakis’ death was confirmed by her brother, Apollo Dukakis, who confirmed the news on his Facebook page. In the post, he revealed that the 89-year-old Dukakis had been in poor health for some time, and that she had now joined her late husband, actor Louis Zorich. You can see his beautiful post down below:

Following the news of her passing, a few actors have already taken to social media to pay tribute to the late, great Olympia Dukakis. Star Trek alum George Takai penned a sweet Twitter message in her honor:

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Likewise, Better Call Saul alum Michael McKean, who studied acting under Olympia Dukakis at NYU, also paid tribute to her. In his own Twitter posts, McKean remembered her firm teachings and passionate way of reaching her students:

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Olympia Dukakis was born in Lowell, Massachusetts on June 20, 1931. Born to Greek emigrants, she experienced her share of ethnic discrimination in her neighborhood. The young Dukakis would eventually matriculate at Boston University, earning a BA in Physical Therapy before going back for a Masters in Fine Arts.

While many know Olympia Dukakis for her film roles, she actually didn’t find fame on the big screen until later in her life. Up until that point, she’d been an accomplished stage actor. She starred in numerous stage plays including Who's Who in Hell, The Aspen Papers and Electra. She even won Obie awards for The Marriage of Bette and Boo and A Man's a Man.

Of course, when Dukakis finally did make it to the film industry, she made a serious impression. Olympia Dukakis landed her earliest film roles during the ‘70s and early ‘80s, but it would be her performance as matriarch Rose Castorini in 1987’s Moonstruck that would cement her place in cinematic history. She would receive acclaim for her performance, which ultimately earned her a Golden Globe and the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress.

Olympia Dukakis is also well known for her role as the dignified yet witty Clairee Belcher in 1989’s Steel Magnolias. She’s also played roles in Mr. Holland’s Opus, Mafia!, and The Thing About My Folks. The actress also appeared on numerous TV shows, ranging from Fraiser and The Simpsons to Mike and Molly and Law & Order.

In addition to her acting, the late star was also passionate about helping to guide young actors. For 15 years, she taught drama to students at NYU.

Olympia Dukakis' passing is a massive loss for Hollywood, and many are sure to miss the one-of-a-kind star. Although she didn't truly break into the industry until later in life, she now leaves behind a legacy that is sure to be remembered for generations to come.

Olympia Dukakis is survived by her three children, Peter, Christina and Stefan. We here at CinemaBlend extend our deepest thoughts and condolences to Olympia Dukakis’ loved ones during this time.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.