WASHINGTON — Actor Michael Constantine, who played the father of the bride in the hit movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," has died, according to multiple reports. He was 94.
The award-winning Greek-American actor is best known for his role as the Windex-loving Gus Portokalos, but he also acted in the TV series "Room 222" from 1969 through 1974. The role earned him an Emmy for best supporting actor in a comedy in 1970.
He performed in several other TV series including “My Favorite Martian,” “The Twilight Zone,” “Bonanza,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Fugitive,” “Quincy, M.E.,” “The Love Boat,” “Remington Steele,” “MacGyver,” “Murder, She Wrote,” and the series spin-off of the movie and sequel, "My Big Fat Greek Life."
Constantine’s brother-in-law Michael Gordon told the Reading Eagle that he died peacefully of "natural causes" in Reading, Pennsylvania on Aug. 31 after a long illness. When he passed, he was surrounded by family, including his two sisters. Gordon added that Constantine was a native of Reading and the son of Greek immigrants.
The paper also noted that Constantine’s birth name was Gus Efstration.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding” became the highest-grossing romantic-comedy of all time with a $241.4 million domestic gross. It was based on writer-star Nia Vardalos’ one-woman play and produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson for just $5 million.
Constantine initially auditioned for the part of Gus and told The Hollywood Reporter that he was anxious to read Vardalos' script, leery about how it might represent the Greek American experience.
"I was anxious about someone writing some Greek thing. Was it going to be baloney or was it going to be something by somebody who really knows Greeks? So I read the script and I said, ‘Yes, this person obviously knows Greeks,’” he said.
Actress and co-star Nia Vardalos, who played his daughter Toula Portokalos in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," paid tribute to Constantine on social media.
"Michael Constantine, the dad to our cast-family, a gift to the written word, and always a friend," said Vardalos in her tweet. "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."
Constantine was married and divorced twice. Survivors include his sisters, Patricia Gordon and Chris Dobbs.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.