Michael Constantine, an Emmy-winning character actor often known as the genially dyspeptic college principal on the favored TV collection “Room 222” and, 30 years later, because the genially dyspeptic patriarch in the hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” died on Aug. 31 at his house in Reading, Mass. He was 94.
His demise was from pure causes, his agent, Julia Buchwald, stated.
Mr. Constantine, who started his profession on the Broadway stage, was endowed with fierce eyebrows, a private heat that belied his perennial hangdog look, and the command of a babel of international accents. Of Greek American extraction, he was routinely solid by Hollywood to painting a welter of ethnicities.
Over time, Mr. Constantine performed a number of Jewish characters, profitable an Emmy in 1970 for the position of Seymour Kaufman, who presided with grumpy humanity over Walt Whitman High School on “Room 222,” broadcast on ABC from 1969 to 1974.
He additionally performed Italians, on reveals together with “The Untouchables” and “Kojak”; Russians, as on the 1980s collection “Airwolf”; a Gypsy in the 1996 horror movie “Thinner,” tailored from Stephen King’s novel; and, occasionally, even a Greek or two.
Mr. Constantine, possessed of a gravitas that usually led to him being solid as legal professionals or heavies, starred because the night-court decide Matthew Sirota on “Sirota’s Court,” a short-lived sitcom proven on NBC in the 1976-77 season.
He had visitor roles on scores of different reveals, together with “Naked City,” “Perry Mason,” “Ironside,” “Gunsmoke” and “Hey, Landlord” in the 1960s, and “Remington Steele,” “Murder, She Wrote” and “Law & Order” in the ’80s and ’90s.
On movie, he appeared in “The Last Mile” (1959), a jail image starring Mickey Rooney; “The Hustler” (1961), starring Paul Newman; “If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium” (1969); “Don’t Drink the Water” (1969); and “Voyage of the Damned” (1976).
Mr. Constantine turned recognized to a fair wider, youthful viewers as Gus Portokalos, the flamable, tradition-bound father whose daughter is engaged to a patrician white Anglo-Saxon Protestant in the 2002 comedy “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.”
An immigrant who made good because the proprietor of a Chicago diner, Gus is an ardent newbie etymologist who can hint any phrase to its putative Greek origin. (“Kimono,” he concludes after pondering the matter, absolutely comes from “cheimónas” — Greek for winter, since, he explains in his closely accented English: “What do you wear in the wintertime to stay warm? A robe!”)
Gus can also be a fervent believer in the restorative energy of Windex, utilized on to the pores and skin, to heal a panoply of illnesses like rashes and boils.
“He’s a man from a certain kind of background,” Mr. Constantine stated of his character in a 2003 interview with The Indianapolis Star. “His saving grace is that he truly does love his daughter and want the best for her. He may not go about it in a very tactful way. So many people tell me, ‘My dad was just like that.’ And I thought, ‘And you don’t hate him?’”
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” which additionally starred Lainie Kazan as Gus’s spouse and Nia Vardalos and John Corbett because the younger couple, was a shock worldwide hit. The movie took in greater than $360 million worldwide, turning into one of many highest-grossing romantic comedies of all time.
Mr. Constantine reprised the position on tv in “My Big Fat Greek Life,” a sitcom that appeared briefly on CBS in 2003, and on the massive display in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” in 2016.
The son of Theoharis Ioannides, a steelworker, and Andromache Foteadou, Mr. Constantine was born Constantine Ioannides in Reading, Pa., on May 22, 1927. (The household title is typically Romanized Joanides.)
He settled early on an performing profession, an thought bolstered after a youthful go to to a buddy who was finding out performing in New York.
“I just knew I belonged there,” Mr. Constantine informed Odyssey, an English-language journal about Greek life, in 2011. “They could make fun of this hick from Pennsylvania, but I just belong here — this is me.”
The younger Mr. Constantine studied performing with Howard da Silva, supporting himself with odd jobs, amongst them night time watchman and shooting-gallery barker. He turned an understudy to Paul Muni taking part in the character modeled on the famed protection lawyer Clarence Darrow in “Inherit the Wind,” which opened on Broadway in 1955.
In “Compulsion” — a 1957 Broadway dramatization of Meyer Levin’s novel concerning the Leopold and Loeb homicide case — Mr. Constantine took over the position of the protection lawyer from Frank Conroy simply earlier than opening night time. (Mr. Conroy withdrew after struggling a coronary heart assault throughout previews.)
“Michael Constantine gives an excellent performance as the prototype of Clarence Darrow,” Brooks Atkinson wrote in The New York Times. “He avoids the sentimentality that the situations might easily evoke and plays with taste, deliberation, color and intelligence.”
Mr. Constantine’s different Broadway credit embody Anagnos, the director of the Perkins Institute for the Blind in the unique solid of “The Miracle Worker” (1959), and Dogsborough in Bertolt Brecht’s antifascist satire “Arturo Ui” (1963).
Mr. Constantine’s first marriage, to the actress Julianna McCarthy, ended in divorce, as did his second, to Kathleen Christopher. His survivors embody two sisters: Patricia Gordon and Chris Dobbs, his agent stated. An entire listing of survivors was not instantly out there.
For all Mr. Constantine’s credit, for all his important acclaim, it was for a single position — and for a single prop wielded in the course of that position — that he appears destined to be remembered.
“I can’t tell you,” he stated in a 2014 interview together with his hometown paper, The Reading Eagle, “how many times I’ve autographed a Windex bottle.”
Alyssa Lukpat contributed reporting.