WASHINGTON — Emmy-winning veteran actor Michael Constantine has passed away at the age of 94 at his Reading, Massachusetts, United States home.
The late actor’s agent, Julia Buchwald, confirmed to a news organization that he died on Aug. 31, 2021, at his home from natural causes.
“Michael Constantine, the dad to our cast-family, a gift to the written word, and always a friend,” she tweeted along with a picture of the cast.
“Acting with him came with a rush of love and fun. I will treasure this man who brought Gus to life. He gave us so much laughter and deserves a rest now. We love you, Michael.”
Vardalos also shared another picture of Constantine and her father, both of whom have passed away.
“Michael Constantine as “Gus” and my real dad Constantine “Gus” Vardalos, onset #MyBigFatGreekWedding2. May both dads Rest In Peace.”
“My friend, Michael Constantine, our sweet patriarch of the Portokalos family, has gone to heaven,” she wrote.
“I’m so thankful for the love he brought to his Windex-wielding, loving father in both our My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movies and the series My Big Fat Greek Life.”
“From his Emmy winning performance on Room 222 (we all wanted him as our teacher!) to his recent performances, Michael was always the kindest person. He had time for everyone, and when you were with him, he made you feel like you were the only person in the room.”
“He will be with us forever in our hearts and for future generations who will watch his work. If Gus Portokalos were here, he may say that the origin of the word “forever” is Greek. Because in Greek, “forever” is “Yia Panda” and “what bear lives for a very long time? Yeah, Panda!”
“There you go!” We will love you για πάντα (forever), Michael.”
The son of an ironworker, Constantine was born as Gus Efstration on May 22, 1927. After graduating from school and serving as a manager of the dairy department of his grocery store, he inclined towards acting after one of his friends left for New York to become an actress.
He started his career on the New York stage (although he made his television debut on NBC’s “The Big Story” in 1949 during the very early days of the medium).
Constantine served as a substitute to Paul Muni for the Broadway production of “Inherit the Wind,” where the latter played the role of Henry Drummond.
His acting mentors also included Howard Da Silva.
He played the role of the famous school principal on the television series “Room 222.” The show ran on ABC-TV from 1969 to 1974 and bagged Constantine an Emmy Award in 1970 for the character of Seymour Kaufman.
Constantine also appeared on several television shows like “The Untouchables,” “Kojak,” “Airwolf,” NBC’s “Sirota’s Court.” His credits also include guest roles on “Naked City,” “Perry Mason,” “Ironside,” “Gunsmoke,” and “Hey, Landlord,” among many others.
He also had a key role in the 1996 horror film “Thinner,” opposite Robert John Burke, Joe Mantegna, Lucinda Jenney, and Bethany Joy Lenz.
Constantine also appeared in “The Last Mile,” “The Hustler,” “Don’t Drink the Water,” “Voyage of the Damned,” and more.
Later, he reprised his “Greek Wedding” character in a 2003 sitcom for CBS and in the sequel to the hit film, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” in 2016.
The third version of the film was in the planning stages, this time set in Greece, as per sources.
On the personal front, the late actor was married and divorced twice. He was with “The Young and the Restless” actor Julianna McCarthy from 1953 to 1969; and then with Kathleen Christopher from 1974 to 1980.
He is survived by two sisters — Chris and Patricia.
(With inputs from ANI)
Edited by Ojaswin Kathuria and Nikita Nikhil