May 22, 1927
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||August 31, 2021 (aged 94)|
Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.
(m. 1953; div. 1969)
Kathleen Christopher (divorced)
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 Windex bottle-toting Greek father of Toula Portokalos (Nia Vardalos), in the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002). Earlier, he 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).
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.
He began his career on the New York stage 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 later married Kathleen Christopher, though they also later divorced.
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, both times as the murderer. He played the role of wannabe private eye Dillard in "The Case of the Blonde Bonanza", 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. In 1988, he played the estranged father of one of the main characters in Friday the 13th: the Series.
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.
Constantine died at his home in Reading on August 31, 2021, at age 94, from natural causes.
|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|
|1964||Profiles in Courage||Future U.S. Senator From Georgia, Tom Watson|
|1968||In Enemy Country||Ladislov|
|1969||If It's Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium||Jack Harmon|
|1969||Don't Drink the Water||Commissar Krojack|
|1969||The Reivers||Mr. Binford|
|1972||Deadly Harvest||Stefan Groza||TV movie|
|1975||The Night That Panicked America||Jess Wingate||TV movie|
|1976||Voyage of the Damned||Luis Clasing|
|1978||Summer of My German Soldier||Harry Bergen||TV movie|
|1978||The Pirate||Yashir||TV movie|
|1979||The North Avenue Irregulars||Marvin 'Marv' Fogleman|
|1979||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|
|1991||By a Thread||Unknown|
|1993||Question of Faith||Unknown|
|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
|2016||My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2||Gus Portokalos||Final film role|
Constantine was cast as the historical John Chisum in the 1965 episode, "Paid in Full", on the syndicated television anthology series, Death Valley Days, hosted by Ronald Reagan. Keith Andes portrayed Rob Hunter, a former Confederate colonel who visits Kathy McLennan (Aneta Corsaut), the wife of a soldier who had been killed while serving under Hunter in the American Civil War. He discovers that McLennan and her neighboring ranchers have been defrauded by Chisum, who issued legally unclaimable IOUs when he purchased their stock. Hunter works to recover the money owed to the ranchers. He also appeared in another 1965 Death Valley Days episode, "The Great Turkey War", with Parley Baer cast as journalist Horace Greeley.
Constantine's other television appearances include: