Olympia Dukakis Wins Supporting Role Oscar : Cousin of Presidential Contender Honored for ‘Moonstruck’ Part at 60th Awards Ceremony

Times Staff Writer

Olympia Dukakis, cousin of Democratic presidential contender Michael S. Dukakis, won a best supporting actress Oscar on Monday for her portrayal of a weary and whimsical Italian-American mother in “Moonstruck.”

And in accepting the award, she offered a word of encouragement to her cousin, the Massachusetts governor, who was reported to be watching the 60th Academy Awards telecast from a restaurant in New York.

“OK, Michael. Let’s go!” she said.

It was the first major film role for the 56-year-old actress, a veteran of the New York theater.


“The Last Emperor,” a front-runner for best picture, took early Oscars for cinematography and art direction.

Dukakis had been the clear favorite in an unusual field of supporting actresses, the youngest of which was the 41-year-old Anne Archer.

None of the five had been previously nominated for an Academy Award, though Dukakis had won two Obies for her stage work.

Other nominees for the award included Anne Archer for “Fatal Attraction”; Anne Ramsey for “Throw Momma From the Train”; Ann Sothern for “The Whales of August”; and Argentine actress Norma Aleandro for her first English language film, “Gaby--A True Story.” Aleandro had played the lead in Argentina’s 1985 Best Foreign Language Oscar winner, “The Official Story.”


“Innerspace,” which was co-produced by Steven Spielberg, won the Oscar for best visual effects.

The comedy, which did not do well at the box office last summer, concerned the adventures of a man who was shrunk and accidentally injected into another man’s body.

The show opened smoothly at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, despite earlier fears that a change of venue from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and a month-old strike by the Writers Guild of America might cause disruption.

In the only visible demonstration, about 20 members of the Guardian Angels, dressed in red berets and fatigues, picketed the auditorium in protest against the planned opening Friday of “Colors,” a film that depicts Los Angeles gang violence.


The Oscars were last presented at the nearly 6,000-seat auditorium in 1948.

Producers moved back to the old theater this year, primarily because it has a larger seating capacity than the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.

There was no picketing by striking writers. But guild officials earlier said they planned to monitor the show closely for violations of strike rules.

Under the rules, Oscar presenters and producers could be subject to guild sanctions if they used any material that had not been written before the strike was declared March 7. Members who violate the rules could be expelled, and others could be barred from future membership, the guild has said.


No Problem Seen

Samuel Goldwyn Jr., producer of the Oscar ceremonies, said he did not expect serious trouble because a complete script was written before March 7.

Host Chevy Chase and comedian Steve Martin were among guild members to take part in the show.

As the telecast opened, director Bernardo Bertolucci’s “The Last Emperor,” with nine nominations including best director, was widely considered the front runner for best picture.


A historical epic in the mold of past winners “Amadeus” (1985) and “Out of Africa” (1986), “The Last Emperor” followed the life of Pu Yi from the time he assumed the imperial throne of China in 1908 at the age of 3, through his travails in a Communist prison camp, until his death as an obscure private citizen in 1967.

Filmed in Beijing, the movie used about 15,000 extras and four different actors, including John Lone, in the role of the Chinese emperor.

Bertolucci, a 47-year-old Italian, received the Directors Guild of America award for the picture earlier this year. He had never previously won an Oscar, although he was nominated in 1973 for directing “Last Tango in Paris,” and in 1971 for writing the screenplay for “The Conformist.”

Impact of Award


“The Last Emperor” was released by Columbia Pictures and was financed by Hemdale Film Corp., which also backed “Platoon,” last year’s best picture. A victory for Bertolucci’s film would mark a triumph for David Puttnam, who resigned last year after a stormy tenure as head of Columbia, but left the studio with more 1987 Oscar nominations than any other Hollywood studio.

“Hope and Glory,” also filmed during Puttnam’s tenure, received five nominations, including best picture and a best director nod for John Boorman. Puttnam did not attend the ceremony Monday night, but was expected to watch from a hotel room in Toronto.

Other best picture nominees were “Moonstruck,” “Broadcast News,” and “Fatal Attraction.”

All of the acting nominees were on hand Monday night, perhaps a sign that Hollywood is taking the presentation more seriously than it did in past years, when such Oscar winners as Woody Allen and Marlon Brando did not show up.


Michael Douglas appeared to be the best actor favorite for his portrayal of a corrupt financier in “Wall Street,” even though the film--written and directed by Oliver Stone--didn’t win any other nominations.

Douglas, 43, has never received an acting Oscar. He won an Academy Award for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” 1975’s best picture. Douglas is the son of veteran actor Kirk Douglas.

Other Nominees

Other acting nominations were two-time winner Jack Nicholson, for “Ironweed”; past winner William Hurt for “Broadcast News”; Marcello Mastroianni for “Dark Eyes”; and Robin Williams for “Good Morning, Vietnam.”


By many accounts, Cher led the best actress field for her performance as Loretta Castorini, a career woman whose love-life causes turmoil among her Brooklyn Italian family in “Moonstruck.”

Other nominees included Glenn Close for “Fatal Attraction”; Holly Hunter for “Broadcast News”; Sally Kirkland for “Anna”; and Meryl Streep for “Ironweed.”

Among the supporting actors, the sentimental favorite appeared to be 57-year-old Sean Connery, who was nominated for his role as a hardened beat cop-turned-gangster-buster in “The Untouchables.” Despite his work 44 films, including seven James Bond movies, Connery was never previously nominated.

The other supporting actor nominees were Albert Brooks for “Broadcast News”; Morgan Freeman for “Street Smart”; Denzel Washington for “Cry Freedom”; and Vincent Gardenia for “Moonstruck.”


The only nominations to engender serious controversy in Hollywood this year were in the directing category. No U.S.-born directors were nominated for the first time in Oscar history, and those passed by for the honor included such established directors as James Brooks, whose “Broadcast News” was among the best picture nominees. No film has ever won as best picture without its director also receiving a nomination.

Some Not Named

Others passed by included Steven Spielberg, who directed “Empire of the Sun”; Oliver Stone, who directed “Wall Street”; and Stanley Kubrick, who directed “Full Metal Jacket.”

In addition to Italian-born Bertolucci and British-born Boorman, Canadian Norman Jewison was nominated for “Moonstruck”; Swede Lasse Hallstrom for “My Life as a Dog”; and British-born Adrian Lyne for “Fatal Attraction.”


The Irving Thalberg award for sustained excellence in film-making was to be given to Billy Wilder, 81-year-old director of “Some Like It Hot,” “Irma La Douce,” “The Apartment” and other films that almost always combined a comic bent and a sharp eye for human foibles.

Among the studios, Disney received only a single nomination, for Robin Williams’ work in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” even though the company has been riding a hot streak at the box office. Columbia, meanwhile, has lagged among ticket buyers despite its nominations.

This year’s show, broadcast in the United States on ABC and to 88 foreign countries, was expected to be more “visual” than “verbal,” producer Goldwyn said in an earlier interview. Goldwyn said the decision to emphasize visual effects--for instance by using two large video screens on stage--was intended to acknowledge the show’s large international audience.

Backstage at the show, Oscar officials said they had agreed to keep the show at the Shrine for at least two more years.