MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (AP) — Olympia Dukakis, the veteran stage and screen actress whose flair for maternal roles helped her win an Oscar as Cher’s mother in the romantic comedy “Moonstruck,” has died. She was 89.
Dukakis died Saturday morning in her home in New York City, according to Allison Levy, her agent at Innovative Artists. A cause of death was not immediately released.
Dukakis won her Oscar through a surprising chain of circumstances, beginning with author Nora Ephron’s recommendation that she play Meryl Streep’s mother in the film version of Ephron’s book “Heartburn.” Dukakis got the role, but her scenes were cut from the film. To make it up to her, director Mike Nichols cast her in his hit play “Social Security.” Director Norman Jewison saw her in that role and cast her in “Moonstruck.”
Dukakis won the Oscar for best supporting actress and Cher took home the trophy for best actress.
Her Oscar victory kept the motherly film roles coming. She was Kirstie Alley’s mom in “Look Who’s Talking” and its sequel “Look Who’s Talking Too,” the sardonic widow in “Steel Magnolias” and the overbearing wife of Jack Lemmon (and mother of Ted Danson) in “Dad.”
Her recent projects included the 2019 TV miniseries “Tales of the City” and the upcoming film “Not to Forgot.”
But the stage was her first love.
“My ambition wasn’t to win the Oscar,” she commented after her “Moonstruck” win. “It was to play the great parts.”