Michael Constantine, Father in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding,’ Dies at 94
Michael Constantine, an Emmy-winning character actor known as the genially dyspeptic school principal on the popular TV series “Room 222” and, 30 years later, as the genially dyspeptic patriarch in the hit film “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” died on Aug. 31 at his home in Reading, Pa. He was 94.
Mr. Constantine, who began his career on the Broadway stage, was endowed with fierce eyebrows, a personal warmth that belied his perennial hangdog look, and the command of a Babel of foreign accents. Of Greek extraction, he was routinely cast by Hollywood to portray a welter of ethnicities.
He played several Jewish characters, winning an Emmy in 1970 for the role of Seymour Kaufman, who presided with grumpy humanity over a fictional Los Angeles school on “Room 222.” Broadcast on ABC from 1969 to 1974, the show centered on an idealistic Black history teacher, played by Lloyd Haynes, who contended with a variety of issues, social and otherwise, at the racially diverse Walt Whitman High School.
He also played Italians, on shows including “The Untouchables” and “Kojak”; Russians, as in the 1980s series “Airwolf”; a Gypsy, in the 1996 horror film “Thinner,” adapted from a Stephen King novel; and, on occasion, even a Greek or two.