Sadly, we farewell Mrs. Madrigal, with the passing of Olympia Dukakis who left us on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

Dukakis, played Anna Madrigal, a character in the seminal series Tales of the City based on the novels of Armistead Maupin.

Dukakis also played and won an Oscar for Rose Castorini, Cher’s mother in the 1987 classic Moonstruck and the feisty Clairee Belcher in Steel Magnolias, just two outstanding film roles in an outstanding career of film, television and the stage.:

The death was announced on social media, by the late actor’s brother Apollo Dukakis: “After many months of failing health she is finally at peace and with her Louis,” he 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.

Posted by Apollo Dukakis on Saturday, 1 May 2021

 

Dukakis, who was 89,  died at her home in New York City, with her daughter Christina Zorich “by her side,” the family said in a statement.
“Her brother Apollo Dukakis, her sons Stefan and Peter Zorich, and four grandchildren thank you for your love, prayers, and kind remembrances during this difficult time,” the family said.

Farewell, Mrs Madrigal

Olympia Dukakis portrayed Anna Madrigal, the transgender landlady, in the original 1993 miniseries Tales Of The City. She reprised the role in the sequels, More Tales of the City (1998) Further Tales of the City (2001) and Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City (2019).

As Mrs Madrigal, she was the mother figure so many of us needed at a time when acceptance from society was in short supply. 

The way that she welcomed her tenants as the enigmatic Mrs Madrigal with a warm smile, a welcoming embrace and of course, a rolled up joint taped to her welcome letter – no wonder so many of the LGBTQI community felt the embrace of this woman who loved unconditionally and carried with her an air of mystery.

“Anna Madrigal is like an angel,” Dukakis said back in 1994 to the LA Times. “She’s someone hanging around watching, someone who’s there to provide comfort, so people don’t feel alone. One of her tenants asks if she objects to pets and she says, ‘I don’t object to anything.’

A Incredible Legacy

The original 1993 cast of ‘Tales of The City’.

Even at this remove from my first and only viewing of the initial three seasons from the 90’s / early 2000’s, I still remember the way the show captured my attention with that arresting opening theme and the warm and comforting feelings it brought, the excitement in the pit of my stomach to be again catching up with the adventures of the tenants of Barbary Lane!

Especially the resident gay fella, Mouse!  Talk about swoon! Marcus D’Amico, the actor who played the original Mouse, died last year.

Anticipation building for a whole week between episodes because in the old days, you had to WAIT for each episode to make its way down the TV antenna, like a bunch of suckers!

In the same article from 1994 in the LA Times, when the series was in the middle of it’s original run, Dukakis also offered some insight in to the character of Anna Madrigal, 

“Anna has an understanding and a tolerance that are born of real struggle. She grew up an outsider, thinking there was no one in the world like her. Everyone feels that to a degree. She survived those feelings of shame and guilt. She’s survived herself.”

No soggy seconds, farewell Mrs Madrigal you legend

Olympia Dukakis and Cher in ‘Moonstruck’

Another moment that always stood out for me and one that still pops up in my mind occasionally to this day, which probably makes me sound way cooler than I actually am, was this old chestnut, “Help yourself to a joint and don’t bother passing it around. I hate that soggy communal business. If you’re going to be degenerate, you might as well be a lady about it.”

Total class act and let‘s face it, that’s a thoughtful host right there!

Cher remembered her co-star – both won the Academy Award (Cher for Best Actress, and Dukakis for Bess Actress In A Supporting Role) for Moonstruck.

She will be missed by millions and remembered by all through the incredible body of work she has left behind.

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