Michael Constantine, the Windex-spritzing father of Nia Vardalos’ character in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, has died.
His family announced that Constantine died Aug. 31 in his home in Reading, Pennsylvania. He had been ill for some time.
The son of Greek immigrants, Constantine is warmly remembered for his turn as Gus Portokalos, the husband of Lainie Kazan’s Maria Portokalos, in the unlikely box-office smash My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its 2016 sequel. Produced by Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, the first installment, made for $5 million and released in 2002, grossed nearly $370 million worldwide.
Constantine said in a 2016 interview,
“I had to audition for the part.
Before that, I asked to read the script, because I was very leery. I didn’t know Nia then [she also penned the screenplay], and I was anxious about someone writing some Greek thing. Was it going to be baloney or was it going to be something by somebody who really knows Greeks? So I read the script and I said,
‘Yes, this person obviously knows Greeks.’ “
The know-it-all Gus was famous for thinking that Windex would cure just about any ailment.
“I’m actually sick of Windex. There must have been hundreds of bottles sent to me, and then there were all those people who asked me to autograph their Windex bottles.”
He also reprised the role for the short-lived 2003, My Big Fat Greek Life.
Michael Constantine was 94.