This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.
Surveying his life, one might think Michael Halkias had several careers. The truth is, he had one — helping people get what they wanted.
Were you a Greek national looking to immigrate to the United States? In his early days, Mr. Halkias, the real estate, travel or employment agent, could help with that. Wanted to know what was going on? Mr. Halkias, the radio host, could be of use. Maybe you needed to sell something. Mr. Halkias, the advertising man, at your service.
Or perhaps you simply needed a place to congregate and celebrate — your wedding or bat mitzvah, a holiday or a job promotion? That’s when Mr. Halkias really settled in, and shone.
He was the longtime owner of the Grand Prospect Hall in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. For nearly 40 years, it hosted weddings, concerts, corporate functions, holiday parties, birthday parties and other special events.
The Hall became familiar to generations of New Yorkers with its campy long-running commercials, featuring Mr. Halkias and his wife, Alice, making a promise with wide-open arms and big smiles: “We make your dreams come true!”
“If you live in New York, and if you’ve ever owned a television, you’ve probably seen these commercials,” Mr. Kimmel said. “The commercials are wonderful, but they’ve been running the same ones for 125 years.”
Mr. Halkias died from complications of the coronavirus on May 6 at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, his wife said. He was 82.
He was born on Sept. 6, 1937, in Pittsburgh to Elias and Josephine Halkias. Father and son moved to Greece two years later but soon returned, settling in Boston, where Josephine ran a butcher shop.
Mr. Halkias graduated from Holy Cross Seminary in Brookline, Mass., in 1964 before moving to New York in 1966. He worked in the advertising department of The National Herald, an English-language weekly focused on the Greek-American community, and at a travel agency.
While at the travel agency, Mr. Halkias met a customer named Alice. They married in 1967.
Mr. Halkias is also survived by his children Josephine, Elias and Demetrios; five grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.
In 1980, Mr. Halkias founded The Greek American, a bilingual periodical that published every two weeks. He was also the host of a one-hour local radio show. He acquired the Grand Prospect, a Victorian banquet hall built in 1892, in 1981.
“RIP Michael Halkias,” the City Council speaker, Corey Johnson, wrote on Twitter. “Your Grand Prospect Hall TV commercials are iconic. You really did make dreams come true for thousands of New Yorkers.”