Actor Olympia Dukakis, star of Tales of the City, dies aged 89


Actor Olympia Dukakis, who played Anna Madrigal in the Tales of the City series, has died aged 89.

Dukakis was a theatre veteran who found success in film and television late in her career. While she was appearing on stage, television and film since the 1960s, it wasn’t until 1987 she had her breakout role in the film Moonstruck.

Soon after she appeared in a raft of films including Working Girl, Look Who’s Talking and Steel Magnolias. Further success came with Mr. Holland’s Opus where she played the School Principal.

In 1993 she took on the role of Anna Madrigal in the screen adaptation of Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City.  She returned to play the character on three subsequent occasions for the 1988 series More Tales From the City, 2001’s Further Tales from the City and the most recent outing of the series in 2019.  

Dukakis was praised for taking on the role of a transgender character in the early 1990s a time when there was very little transgender representation on screen. When producers came to make the most recent series in 2019 they noted that while today they would be able to cast a transgender actor in the role, they would never have considered anyone but Dukakis for the role she first took decades earlier.

Also among her many roles was the 2011 comedy Cloudburst about an older lesbian couple who embark on a road trip, Dukakis appeared opposite Brenda Fricker.

Over her long career Dukakis appeared in over 130 stage productions, 60 films and 50 television series. She won an Obie award in 1963 for her performance in Bertolt Brecht’s Man Equals Man, she won the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her part in Moonstruck.

The story of her life was told in the 2018 documentary Olympia, which had a US theatrical release.

Dukakis was a prominent political campaigner, supporting her cousin Michael Dukakis when he ran for President in 1988 against George Bush. She was vocal supporter of women’s rights, LGBTIQ+ rights and same-sex marriage.    

Dukakis was married producer Louis Zorich from 1962 until his death in 2018. She passed away at her home in New York. Her death was announced by her brother Apollo who said, “My beloved sister, Olympia Dukakis, passed away this morning in New York City. After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis.”

OIP Staff

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