Michael Constantine

Michael Constantine (born May 22, 1927) is an American actor of Greek descent.[1]

Michael Constantine
Constantine (right) with Lloyd Haynes in Room 222 (1969)
Gus Efstratiou

(1927-05-22) May 22, 1927
Years active1953–2007, 2016
Spouse(s)Julianna McCarthy (1953–69; divorced; 2 children)

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).[2] Earlier, he earned acclaim for his television work, especially as the long-suffering high school principal, Seymour Kaufman, on ABC's sitcom, 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).[3]

Life and career

Constantine was born Gus Efstratiou in Reading, Pennsylvania, the son of Andromache Efstratiou (Ανδρομάχη Ευστρατίου; née Fotiadou [Φωτιάδου]) and Theoharis Ioannides [Θεοχάρης Ιωαννίδης] (a steel worker), both immigrants from Greece.[4]

He began his career on the New York stage and 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 studied acting with such prominent mentors as Howard Da Silva. He was playing 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.

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.[5]



1959The Last MileConvict Ed Warner
1961The HustlerBig John
1963Island of LoveAndy
1964Quick, Before It MeltsMikhail Drozhensky
1964Profiles in CourageFuture U.S. Senator from Georgia, Tom Watson
1966Beau GesteRostov
1968In Enemy CountryLadislov
1969JustineMemlik Pasha
1969If It's Tuesday, This Must Be BelgiumJack Harmon
1969Don't Drink the WaterCommissar Krojack
1969The ReiversMr. Binford
1972Deadly HarvestStefan GrozaTV movie
1975The Night That Panicked AmericaJess WingateTV movie
1976Voyage of the DamnedLuis Clasing
1978Summer of My German SoldierHarry BergenTV movie
1978The PirateYashirTV movie
1979The North Avenue IrregularsMarv Fogleman
1979Crisis in Mid-AirFrank PiovanoTV movie
1983The Forty Days of Musa DaghTalaat Pasha
1985Pray for DeathNewman
1987In the MoodMr. Wisecarver
1989PrancerMr. Stewart
1991By a ThreadUnknown
1993Question of FaithUnknown
1993My LifeBill
1996The JurorJudge Weitzel
1996ThinnerTadzu Lempke
2002My Big Fat Greek WeddingGus PortokalosSatellite 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
2016My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Gus Portokalos


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.[6] 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:


  1. "Movies". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 October 2013. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  2. Kehr, Dave (19 April 2002). "FILM IN REVIEW; 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  3. Hatza, George (20 December 2014). "George Hatza: Michael Constantine prepares for 'Greek' sequel". Reading Eagle. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  4. "Michael Constantine Biography (1927–)". Film Reference. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  5. "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2". My Big Fat Greek Wedding Movie. Retrieved 9 July 2016.
  6. "Paid in Full on Death Valley Days". IMDb. Retrieved September 17, 2018.
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