Easter Memories

The National Herald

Stephen Diacrussi and Olympia Dukakis, after a performance of The Singing Forest at The Public Theater in New York in 2009.

Watching the BBC News on Easter Sunday morning, before getting to Holy Trinity Cathedral for the Agape Vesper, was as close as the BBC could get to Orthodox Easter by including the passing of Olympia Dukakis in its morning headlines. 

I was still attending Performing Arts High School when I first worked with Olympia, when she and her husband Louis Zorich were beginning to do film work, cast in Jules Dassin's classic The Rehearsal, my film debut. Back then, Olympia was known in theater circles for her devotion to the stage and her collaborations with Nikos Psacharopoulos at the Williamstown Theater Festival that later influenced Olympia Dukakis in founding her Whole Theater in Montclair, N.J. and the Charles Playhouse in Boston. Being that Olympia never changed her family name to some non-ethnic-sounding stage name, the last role she wished for was a Greek character. Dukakis was a true laborer of her craft. She believed that it is the stage and not film that exhibits an actor's skills, although she was equally as effective in commanding both media. She had taught drama at New York University and, even after her Academy Award-winning performance in Moonstruck, and all the work that this appearance of hers generated, she continued to assure her fans that stage work was by far more rewarding. The only other actress of Greek descent to have earned an Academy Award was Katina Paxinou.

Along with her cousin Michael Dukakis and her brother Apollo, her family did not only make Greeks in general proud, but her piers and colleagues too, for her tireless dedication to the stage and its film and television variants, where she created unforgettable characterizations of Olympic proportions.

In loving memory,

Stephen Diacrussi