“A Christmas Story” Star, Melinda Dillon, Dies at 83

Oscar nominee Melinda Dillon, who also starred in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, has died.

Sad news has just broken as it’s been reported that Melinda Dillon has died. THR reports that Dillon, known for her roles in films like A Christmas Story and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, died on Jan. 9, though the news of her death hadn’t been shared by her family until now. No other details about her passing, such as a cause of death, were revealed. She was 83 years old.

Melinda Dillon was born on Oct. 13, 1939. Early on, she found success in her acting career, earning a Tony Award nomination with her Broadway debut by appearing in the original stage production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. She’d go on to score a nomination at the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress on two separate occasions, once for 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and again for 1981’s Absence of Malice. Her role in 1976’s Bound for Glory also earned her a nomination at the Golden Globes for New Star of the Year. For her role in 1999’s Magnolia, Dillon was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award along with the rest of the ensemble cast.

The actress may be best known for her main role in the 1983 holiday classic A Christmas Story, in which she plays Mama Parker, the mother of Peter Billingsley’s Ralphie Parker and wife of Darren McGavin’s Old Man Parker. The film is considered by many to be among the greatest holiday movies of all time and is viewed every year by fans across the world. A legacy sequel, A Christmas Story Christmas, was released on HBO Max last year, though it doesn’t feature Dillon as she retired from acting professionally in 2007. She had been living a very low key life in the years since, seemingly embracing her retirement.

Melinda Dillon Was a Veteran of the Stage and Screen

Appearing in a variety of films, Dillon can also be seen in movies like The April FoolsSlap ShotF.I.S.T.The Muppet MovieHarry and the HendersonsSpontaneous CombustionCaptain AmericaTo Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie NewmarCowboy Up, and Reign Over Me. Her body of work on the small screen includes roles in TV shows like The DefendersBonanzaThe JeffersonsSaraCHiPsInsightThe Twilight ZoneTracey Takes OnPicket FencesLaw & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Heartland.

Dillon was previously married to late actor Richard Libertini, and the two had a son before divorcing in 1978. Our thoughts go out to Dillon’s loved ones at this time. Rest in peace, Melinda Dillon.

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