Entertainment

My Big Fat Greek Wedding star Michael Constantine dies aged 94

Michael Constantine has died aged 94 (Picture: WireImage)

Michael Constantine has died, at the age of 94

The My Big Fat Greek wedding actor, who played beloved Costas ‘Gus’ Portokalos in the film, died at his home in Pennsylvania.

His brother-in-law, Michael Gordon, confirmed the news, and said that he died peacefully, surrounded by his family.

Speaking to the Reading Eagle, Michael Gordon said: ‘Last week he could still sing all four stanzas of the Reading High School alma mater from memory.

‘He’s always considered himself a Reading native. People would come up and say, “You’re from California,” [and he’d say] “Oh no, I’m from Reading”.’

His sister, Patricia, added: ‘He loved his hometown. He came back here right after he won his Emmy for Room 222.

Tributes poured in for the late actor on social media (Picture: WireImage)

‘But then he was called back to California. He always loved coming home. He was very much a family person. He loved his children, his siblings, his parents.’

Constantine’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed, but he had been ill for several years before his death.

Tributes poured in for the late star on social media, with Nia Vardalos – who played his daughter in My Big Fat Greek wedding – sharing her fond memories.

‘Michael Constantine, the dad to our cast-family, a gift to the written word, and always a friend,’ she shared on Twitter, beside a photo of them raising a toast at dinner.

‘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.’

West Wing actor Bradley Whitford shared: ‘Michael Constantine was a terrific actor and a wonderfully kind man.

‘Well done, sir. Rest In Peace.’

Constantine began his decades-long acting career in the 1950s, taking to the stage as an understudy in Inherit The Wind, and went on to play small roles in plays in his early 20s, with his big screen debut arriving in 1959, when he starred in The Last Mile with Mickey Rooney.

One of his most memorable roles came 10 years later, when he landed the role of Seymour Kaufman in hit TV show, Room 222, following an American history class at a fictional high school.

He won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a comedy series for his portrayal as the principal in 1970.

The actor later played Gus in My Big Fat Greek Wedding in 2002, with fans loving his Windex-toting character who went slightly overboard to ensure that his daughter Toula (Nia Vardalos) had the most iconic big day.

Fans were delighted when he reprised his role in the brief TV spin-off, My Big Fat Greek Life, in 2003, with his final role coming in the cinematic sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, in 2016.

Constantine is survived by his two children, Thea and Brendan, and sisters Patricia and Chris.

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