Olympia Dukakis, American actress of theater Oscar winner in 1988 for “Eclair de lune”, died
In 1988, two North American descendants of a family of Greek immigrants were to be talked about: Michael Dukakis was the Democratic candidate for the White House while his cousin Olympia Dukakis won a Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for Moonlight (Moonstruck, 1987), by Norman Jewison. She played the mother of the character played by Cher – recipient of the Oscar for best actress.
Olympia Dukakis, who died on 1er May in New York, at the age of 89, smashed the screen there as a matriarch with a strong speaking and strong character. A job that fit her like a glove and that she also had to embrace in Women’s gossip (Steel Magnolias, 1989), Herbert Ross, and especially in the role of Anna Madrigal during the four seasons of the television series The Chronicles of San Francisco (Tales of the City, 1993-2019).
But Olympia Dukakis was above all a board familiar. Before being revealed to the general public by her Oscar, when she was 56 years old, she had mainly performed in a regional company, the Whole Theater Company, which she had founded with her husband, Louis Zorich. (1924-2018), in Montclair, New Jersey, where she then resided, and of which she was artistic director.
The collective’s first show – which had the particularity of being notably made up of couples of actors and actresses – was, in 1973, the emblematic Our Town (1938), by Thornton Wilder. The troupe – in which Blythe Danner and Samuel L. Jackson collaborated – will then play Eugene O’Neill, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee…
Face of the LGBT + community
Olympia Dukakis performed on Broadway but it was not until after the release ofMoonlight that the proposals of the small screen as of the big one have multiplied. Her career and her stature could make her compare, in France, to Tsilla Chelton, whose film Aunty Danielle (1990), by Etienne Chatiliez, introduced the general public to this figure of the boards who, like Dukakis, was also a renowned theater teacher.
Olympia Dukakis, born in Lowell (State of Massachusetts, United States) on June 20, 1931, has appeared in around sixty feature films (including many popular comedies) and in around fifty television series. Among these, the adaptations of Chronicles of San Francisco, by Armistead Maupin, remain the best known and will make the actress a muse of the LGBT + community.
In Tales of The City (1993), More Tales of the City (1998) and Further Tales of the City (2001), then in the fourth season, Tales of the City, released on Netflix in 2019, Olympia Dukakis played Anna Madrigal, the landlady of a community of young people that she welcomed (with a seal stuck on the door) in a libertarian phalanstery at 28, Barbary Lane, in San Francisco.
This character, played with panache and in supple caftans, had struck by being the first transgender representation in a major role on television and in a series. While the trans community has, in recent years, blamed non-trans actors for playing roles that they believe should be theirs, they will remain attached and grateful to them.
So, actress and activist Jen Richards, who played young Anna Madrigal in the show’s fourth season, praised the“Correctness of interpretation” of Olympia Dukakis in a message posted on 1er may on Twitter. The latter will resume the role for season 4, this time surrounded by many trans and non-binary actors, including Ellen Page, who was to come out the following year as Elliot Page.
Anna Madrigal said her farewell at the end of the season, closing a very imperfect series, sometimes bordering on grotesque (season 3, filmed in Canada with a small budget) but which will remain as one of the boldest on the small screen ( frontal sex, drugs, societal reflection of each of its eras) and which is seen again especially for the duo that formed Olympia Dukakis and Laura Linney, in Mary-Ann Singleton. Olympia Dukakis, “Declining health for many months (…) and in palliative care ” according to his brother, Apollo Dukakis, who announced his death, had been the subject of a documentary on his life and career, Olympia (2020), by Harry Mavromichalis. She had just shot the movie Not To Forget, by Valerio Zanoli (not yet released), with Cloris Leachman, who also died in 2021.
Olympia Dukakis in a few dates
June 20, 1931 Born in Lowell (United States)
1961 Made his professional theater debut
1988 Wins an Oscar for “Moonlight”
2019 Resumes the role of Anna Madrigal in “The Chronicles of San Francisco”
1er May 2021 Death in New York