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Michael Constantine

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Michael Constantine
Constantine in Room 222 in 1969
Gus Efstratiou

(1927-05-22)May 22, 1927
DiedAugust 31, 2021(2021-08-31) (aged 94)
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Resting placeCharles Evans Cemetery
Years active1953–2016
Known forSeymour Kaufman in Room 222 (1969-1974)
Gus Portakalos in the My Big Fat Greek Wedding franchise (2002-2016)
  • (m. 1953; div. 1972)
  • Kathleen Patricia Christopherson
    (m. 1974; div. 1980)

Michael Constantine (born Gus Efstratiou (Ευστρατίου); May 22, 1927 – August 31, 2021) was an American actor. He is most widely recognized for his portrayal of Kostas "Gus" Portokalos, the stubborn Greek father of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002).[1] For his performance, Constantine won a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Musical or Comedy.

Early in his career, Constantine earned acclaim for his television work, especially as the long-suffering high school principal, Seymour Kaufman, on ABC's comedy-drama, Room 222, for which he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series in 1970; he was again recognized by the Emmy Awards, as well as the Golden Globe Awards, the following year. After the conclusion of Room 222, Constantine portrayed night court magistrate Matthew J. Sirota on the 1976 sitcom Sirota's Court, receiving his second Golden Globe nomination. Constantine reprised his role as Gus Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 (2016).[2]

Early life


Constantine was born Gus Efstratiou in Reading, Pennsylvania. He was the son of Andromache (née Fotiadou) and Theocharis Ioannides Efstratiou (a steel worker), both immigrants from Greece.[3]



He began his career on the New York stage in the mid-1950s as understudy to Paul Muni in Inherit the Wind.[3]

He studied acting with such prominent mentors as Howard Da Silva and played 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, first as wannabe private eye Dillard in "The Case of the Blonde Bonanza", and then as Pappy Ryan in "The Case of the Runaway Racer". In 1965, Constantine was cast as the historical John Chisum in the episode "Paid in Full", on the syndicated television anthology series Death Valley Days.[4] He also appeared in another 1965 Death Valley Days episode "The Great Turkey War".[5] 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. In 1988, he played the estranged father of one of the main characters in Friday the 13th: the Series.

Lloyd Haynes and Michael Constantine in Room 222 in 1969

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 (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 on the short-lived television series My Big Fat Greek Life, and a sequel film with the original cast, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which was released on March 25, 2016.[6]

Personal life


On October 5, 1953, Constantine married actress Julianna McCarthy, whom he met while in the cast of Inherit the Wind. 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 married Kathleen Christopher in 1974 and they divorced in 1980.[3]



Constantine died at his home in Reading, Pennsylvania, on August 31, 2021, at age 94, from natural causes.[7][8] My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3, which was released two years after his death, was dedicated to his memory.[9]




Year Title Role Notes
1959 The Last Mile Ed Warner, Convict
1961 The Hustler John 'Big John'
1963 Island of Love Andy
1964 Quick, Before It Melts Mikhail Drozhensky
1966 Hawaii Mason
Beau Geste Rostov
1968 Skidoo 'Leech'
In Enemy Country Ladislov
1969 Justine Memlik Pasha
If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium Jack Harmon
Don't Drink the Water Commissar Krojack
The Reivers Mr. Binford
1972 Deadly Harvest Stefan Groza TV movie
1974 Death Cruise Dr. Burke TV movie
1975 The Night That Panicked America Jess Wingate TV movie
1976 Voyage of the Damned Luis Clasing
Peeper Anglich
1978 Summer of My German Soldier Harry Bergen TV movie
The Pirate Yashir TV movie
1979 The North Avenue Irregulars Marvin 'Marv' Fogleman
Crisis in Mid-Air Frank Piovano TV movie
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
My Life Bill Ivanovich
Deadfall Frank
1996 The Juror Judge Weitzel
Thinner Tadzu Lempke
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
2016 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 Gus Portokalos



Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Production Result
1970 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in Comedy Room 222 Won
1971 Primetime Emmy Awards Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actor - Television
2003 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical My Big Fat Greek Wedding Won


  1. ^ Kehr, Dave (April 19, 2002). "FILM IN REVIEW; 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'". The New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Hatza, George (December 20, 2014). "George Hatza: Michael Constantine prepares for 'Greek' sequel". Reading Eagle. Retrieved February 22, 2019.
  3. ^ a b c Fox, Margalit (September 8, 2021). "Michael Constantine, Dad in 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding,' Dies at 94". The New York Times. Archived from the original on September 11, 2021. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  4. ^ ""Death Valley Days" Paid in Full (TV Episode 1965)". IMDb. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
  5. ^ ""Death Valley Days" The Great Turkey War (TV Episode 1965)". IMDb. Retrieved July 7, 2022.
  6. ^ "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2". My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movie. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  7. ^ Botch, Don (September 8, 2021). "Reading native and Emmy-winning actor Michael Constantine dies at 94 [Video]". Reading Eagle. Retrieved September 9, 2021.
  8. ^ Calvario, Liz (September 8, 2021). "Michael Constantine, 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' Actor, Dead at 94". ET Online. Retrieved October 30, 2021.
  9. ^ Weiss, Benjamin (June 27, 2022). "Everything To Know About My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3". Screen Rant. Retrieved April 20, 2023.