Constantine died Aug. 31 at his home in Reading, Pennsylvania, his agent confirmed Wednesday. He was 94.
Vardalos, who received an Oscar nomination for the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” screenplay and played the daughter of Constantine’s character in the film, praised the actor as a “gift to the written word” in a Wednesday tweet.
“Acting with him came with a rush of love and fun,” she wrote. “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.”
Moments later, she shared a throwback photo from the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” set, showing Constantine posing with her real-life father, Constantine Vardalos, who had a small role in the film.
The son of Greek immigrants, Constantine made his Broadway debut in the 1955 play “Inherit the Wind.” He later transitioned to film acting, appearing opposite Mickey Rooney in 1959’s “The Last Mile” and Paul Newman in 1961’s “The Hustler.” In 1970, he nabbed an Emmy for the ABC comedy series “Room 222,” on which he played Seymour Kaufman, the principal of a Los Angeles high school.
To modern audiences, however, Constantine is best known for his portrayal of Kostas “Gus” Portokalos, the Windex bottle-toting father of Fotoula “Toula” Portokalos (Vardalos) in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Shot on a budget of just $5 million, the 2002 romantic comedy received widespread acclaim and raked in a reported $368 million at the box office worldwide.
Constantine went on to reprise the role of Gus in the TV series “My Big Fat Greek Life” and 2016’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2.”
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