LOS ANGELES (NEXSTAR) — Actress and Arkansas native, Melinda Dillon, known for roles in films like “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “A Christmas Story,” died Jan. 9 at the age of 83, her family confirmed in an obituary.
Dillon made her film debut in 1969’s Catherine Deneuve-Jack Lemmon romcom “The April Fools” after several television appearances, including the hit western “Bonanza.”
Her role in Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” earned her her first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress nomination. She’d be nominated a second time in 1981 for the Sydney Pollack drama “Absence of Malice.”
Dillon’s face has become quite familiar to households given her role as Ralphie Parker’s mom in “A Christmas Story.” The 1983 holiday classic is a TV rerun staple, sometimes airing for 24 hours at a time on TBS and TNT.
Among her other noted film work are roles in 1987’s family comedy “Harry and the Hendersons” and Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 drama “Magnolia,” for which she was nominated as part of the cast for a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Dillon also found stage success, after originating the role of “Honey” in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway in 1962. She was nominated for a Tony Award of Best Featured Actress in a Play the following year.
According to IMDB, Dillon’s final film role was in the 2007 Adam Sandler-Don Cheadle drama “Reign Over Me.” Her final television appearances occurred the same year, in three episodes of TNT’s “Heartland.”
No further details were given by Dillon’s family.
Dillon was born Oct. 13, 1939, in Hope, Arkansas. She was previously married to actor Richard Libertini, with whom she shared a son.