“I was so sorry to hear that Olympia Dukakis had passed away,” Parton, 75, tweeted on Monday. “She has been one of my favorite people that I have ever known or worked with. I really got very close to her and felt like we were good friends.”
“Even though I didn’t get to see her much, I thought of her often and knew that she was such a quality human being,” the country star continued. “She will be missed by her fans, her family, and those of us that were lucky enough to get to know her personally.”
(L-R) Actresses Dolly Parton, Sally Field and Olympia Dukakis at the premiere of the motion picture ‘Steel Magnolias.’ (Photo by Robin Platzer/Twin Images/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)
“What can I say but I loved her,” tweeted Field, 74. “Everyone loved her. She was a gift..unique and talented and one of a kind. Rest in peace my friend Olympia.”
“Steel Magnolias,” which is based on Robert Harling’s 1987 play of the same name, explores the bond that a group of Southern women shares as they cope with the death of one of their own. The 1989 film also starred Julia Roberts, Shirley MacLaine, and Dylan McDermott, among others.
While a cause of death was not immediately released, the late star’s family said in a statement that she had been in failing health for months.
Dukakis won her Oscar through a surprising chain of circumstances, beginning with author Nora Ephron’s recommendation that she play Meryl Streep’s mother in the film version of Ephron’s book “Heartburn.”
Cher and Olympia Dukakis during The 15th Annual People’s Choice Awards at Disney Studios in Burbank, California, United States. (Photo by Barry King/WireImage/Getty Images)
Dukakis got the role, but her scenes were cut from the film. To make it up to her, director Mike Nichols cast her in his hit play “Social Security.” Director Norman Jewison saw her in that role and cast her in “Moonstruck.”
Dukakis won the Oscar for best supporting actress and Cher took home the trophy for best actress.
She referred to her 1988 win as “the year of the Dukakii” because it was also the year Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, her cousin, was the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. At the ceremony, she held her Oscar high over her head and called out: “OK, Michael, let’s go!”
Her Oscar victory kept the motherly film roles coming. She was Kirstie Alley’s mom in “Look Who’s Talking” and its sequel “Look Who’s Talking Too,” the sardonic widow in “Steel Magnolias” and the overbearing wife of Jack Lemmon (and mother of Ted Danson) in “Dad.”
Actress Olympia Dukakis holds her Best Actress in a Supporting Role Oscar for ‘Moonstruck’ at the Academy Awards April 11, 1988, in Los Angeles, CA. (Getty Images)
Dukakis is survived by her children Christina, Stefan and Peter; her brother Apollo Dukakis; and four grandchildren. Her husband, actor Louis Zorich, died in January 2018 at age 93.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.