Michael Constantine

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Michael Constantine
Michael Constantine Lloyd Haynes Room 222 1969.JPG
Constantine (right) with Lloyd Haynes in Room 222 (1969)
Born Constantine Ioannides
(1927-05-22) May 22, 1927 (age 87)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Occupation Actor
Years active 1953–present
Spouse(s) Julianna McCarthy (1953-69, divorced; 2 children)

Michael Constantine (born May 22, 1927) is an American actor of Greek descent.[1]

He is probably now best known for his portrayal of Kostas "Gus" Portokalos, the Windex bottle-toting Greek father of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), in the 2002 surprise hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding.[2] Prior to that, he was well known for his extensive television work, especially as the long-suffering high school principal, Seymour Kaufman, on ABC's sitcom, Room 222, for which he won an Emmy Award as Best Supporting Actor in 1970. He played a night court magistrate, Matthew J. Sirota, on the brief 1976 sitcom, Sirota's Court.[3]

Life and career[edit]

Constantine was born Constantine Ioannides (Greek: Κωνσταντίνος Ιωαννίδης) in Reading, Pennsylvania, the son of Andromache Efstratiou (Ανδρομάχη Ευστρατίου) (née Fotiadou [Φωτιάδου]) and Theoharis Ioannides [Θεοχάρης Ιωαννίδης] (a steel worker), both immigrants from Greece.[4]

He began his career on the New York stage and in the mid-1950s as understudy to Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind. While in the cast, he met and married actress Julianna McCarthy on October 5, 1953; they had two children, Thea Eileen and Brendan Neil. The marriage ended in divorce in 1969, the same year that Constantine began his role on Room 222.

He studied acting with such prominent mentors as Howard Da Silva. He was playing character roles on and off Broadway in his mid-twenties, supplementing his income as a night watchman and shooting-gallery barker. In 1959 he appeared in his first film, The Last Mile (1959). He had a small but memorable supporting role in The Hustler (1961). In 1964 and 1965 Constantine appeared on Perry Mason, both times as the murderer. He played the role of wannabe private eye Dillard in "The Case of the Blonde Bomber," then he played Pappy Ryan in "The Case of the Runaway Racer." In 1967 he appeared in the first part of "The Judgment," the two-episode conclusion of The Fugitive, starring David Janssen. Constantine played a long-suffering anti-organized-crime agent in Walt Disney's caper film The North Avenue Irregulars (1979), where he appeared alongside Edward Herrmann and Cloris Leachman. He also played an organized crime mobster who worked for Frank Nitti in the television version of the Untouchables.

He played Santa Claus in Prancer (1989). In 1993, Constantine appeared in the independent drama Question of Faith, starring Anne Archer and Sam Neill. He played Tadzu Lempke in Stephen King's Thinner in 1996. In 2002, he enjoyed an unexpected comeback as the Windex-toting Gus Portokalos in the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a role he reprised in the short-lived television series My Big Fat Greek Life.

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Last Mile Convict Ed Warner
1961 The Hustler Big John
1963 Island of Love Andy
1964 Quick, Before It Melts Mikhail Drozhensky
1966 Hawaii Mason
1966 Beau Geste Rostov
1968 Skidoo Leech
1968 In Enemy Country Ladislov
1969 The Reivers Mr. Binford
1969 Marquis de Sade: Justine Memlik Pasha
1969 If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Jack Harmon
1976 Voyage of the Damned Luis Clasing
1976 Pepper Anglich
1978 Summer of My German Soldier Harry Bergen
1979 The North Avenue Irregulars Marv
1983 The Forty Days of Musa Dagh Talaat Pasha
1985 Pray for Death Newman
1987 In the Mood Mr. Wisecarver
1989 Prancer Mr. Stewart
1991 By a Thread Unknown
1993 Question of Faith Unknown
1993 My Life Bill
1993 Deadfall Frank
1996 Thinner Tadzu Lempke
1996 The Juror Judge Weitzel
2002 My Big Fat Greek Wedding Gus Portokalos Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Nominated—Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Hissy Fit

Television[edit]

References[edit]

Night Gallery (episode 1 "The boy who predicted earthquakes", 1971)

External links[edit]