Feats of Olympia: Actress Dukakis, Lightly Roasted at National Arts Club, Shills For Hill

On Thursday, Oct. 11, the National Arts Club gave Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis a Medal of Honor for Film. “It was all my friends,” Ms. Dukakis said. “So it was a very, very sweet evening.”

These friends included Blythe Danner, Judd Hirsch and Six Feet Under’s Richard Jenkins. From a dais they traded stories about the honoree, who had requested that the ceremony resemble a roast. Actress and playwright Leslie Aryazian recalled how Ms. Dukakis had told a crying acting student to go ahead and cry; when the student became angry, Ms. Dukakis explained that these strong feelings “were her gift to her.”

These days the grande dame spends most of her time teaching classes at the New School, N.Y.U. and Michael Howard’s acting studio. She also shares an interest in government with her cousin, failed presidential hopeful Michael Dukakis, of course.

“I’m pulling for Hillary,” Ms. Dukakis said. “I’ve had the opportunity to introduce her a couple of times and hear her speak. And the things she wants to accomplish are very important to me. I trust that she has the experience and the savvy to do it. And I hope if we get Hillary, we get Bill; that would be nice.”

Barack Obama’s newfound religious zeal gives her the willies, the actress added. Is he going to pull a Dukakis and fizzle out?

“A Dukakis is one lie that you don’t stand up to,” said the actress. “That’s what happened to Dukakis—if you think as he did that the American people don’t want that kind of mudslinging. He let these things go by. You can’t do that.”