Nia Vardalos Honors My Big Fat Greek Wedding Dad Michael Constantine After His Death

Michael Constantine, who played dad Gus Portokalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, died at age 94 on Aug. 31. See co-star Nia Vardalos' touching tribute.

By Elyse Dupre Sep 09, 2021 2:57 PMTags
Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2022

Michael Constantine, who played the wise and Windex-loving Gus Portokalos in the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, died in his Pennsylvania home on Aug. 31. He was 94 years old. 

His agent confirmed his passing to NBC News on Sept. 8 and said the actor died of natural causes.

After the news broke, Constantine's former co-star Nia Vardalos, who wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding and starred as his daughter Toula Portokalos, took to Twitter to pay tribute.

"Michael Constantine, the dad to our cast-family, a gift to the written word, and always a friend," she wrote alongside a throwback photo. "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."

In addition, Vardalos shared an old snapshot of Constantine portraying Gus while standing next to her "real dad Constantine 'Gus' Vardalos" on the set of the sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. She wrote, "May both dads Rest In Peace."

Celebrity Deaths: 2021's Fallen Stars

According to his hometown newspaper the Reading Eagle, Constantine was born in Reading, Pa. in 1927 and graduated from Reading High School in 1946. Per NBC News, he appeared on the Broadway stage in the early days of his career, acting in productions like Compulsion and The Miracle Worker, and made his film debut in the 1959 movie The Last Mile starring Mickey Rooney. He was also in Paul Newman's 1961 movie The Hustler.

Over the years, Constantine landed roles in a number of TV series, including The Untouchables, The Twilight Zone, Death Valley Days, My Favorite Martian, Hey, Landlord and many others. He also acted in movies like 1966's Hawaii starring Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow and 1968's Skidoo starring Jackie Gleason and Carol Channing.

From 1969 to 1974, Constantine starred on Room 222. He received two Emmy nominations for his supporting role of Principal Seymour Kaufman in the series, winning in 1970.

Entertainment Pictures via ZUMA

After Room 222, Constantine continued to appear on other shows—like The Krofft Supershow, Electra Woman and Dyna Girl, and Sirota's Court in the 70s—and in movies like 1987's In the Mood starring Patrick Dempsey, and 1993's My Life starring Michael Keaton and Nicole Kidman.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

In 2002, he played Gus in the hit movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding and reprised the role for the 2003 TV series My Big Fat Greek Life and the 2016 sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

However, his loved ones will also remember him for his life off the screen. "[He was] the most generous person you'd ever want to meet," his sister Patricia Gordon told the Reading Eagle. "The world is a better place because of him—really, truly."