In her new book, "Ask Me Again Tomorrow," the actress writes of her struggle to assimilate as a first-generation Greek-American, her one-time alienation from her mother, her battles with addiction and her volatile personal relationships — most told with her humorous voice.
Interestingly, Dukakis starts the book off at the point when she wins the Oscar for "Moonstruck," a pivotal year for her and her family. At that time, her relative Michael Dukakis, a former Massachusetts governor, was making a bid for the White House.
Dukakis tells The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm, "We would talk about, if our fathers were there, that was not a question of being proud of us, but they would have felt that what they believed in, what America was about, was true."
She said their parents believed in the democratic process and thought it was possible for people who had nothing to achieve success through education, hard work, discipline and postponing immediate pleasures for long-term goals.
"They were right," she says. "They had guided us properly. They had shown us the way. I think they would have felt good about themselves."
Dukakis says writing the book gave her the opportunity to learn something and put some painful memories to rest.
She notes, "Two days ago, I was on a show and someone said, 'Your mother was physically abusive.' I felt, 'Oh my God. I can't just let this woman just say that. She has no idea of the contradictions of our mother, the tremendous range in her personality.'"
Though their relationship was rocky, Dukakis says their story had a good ending. She says, "I have friends who did not have the opportunity that I had with my mother, to actually come together and to know and to really believe that my mother loved me. Because she wasn't a demonstrative person, she didn't say those things."
Talking about herself as a child, Dukakis says her mother was "confronted with this rebellious willful person. She took to the rod. She really took to it."