Melinda Dillon, star of ‘Encounters of the Third Kind’ and ‘A Christmas Story’, dies at 83
Melinda Dillon, the two-time Oscar nominee who starred in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “A Christmas Story,” died Jan. 9. She was 83 years old.
The actress’ obituary noted that “good memories and expressions of sympathy” for the Dillon family could be shared on the Neptune Society’s Long Beach location website.
A representative for the Dillon family did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment.
Dillon earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Steven Spielberg’s classic 1977 sci-fi film “Encounters of the Third Kind.” She played Jillian Guiler, a single mother desperately searching for her son after he was abducted by aliens.
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“Melinda was generous of spirit and lent such kindness to the character she played in ‘Encounters of the Third Kind’…She will be missed by all of us,” Spielberg said in a statement to Variety.
The Arkansas native also received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role as Teresa Perrone in Sydney Pollack’s 1981 neo-noir thriller “Absence of Malice.” Her character Teresa Perrone, a longtime friend of Michael Gallagher (Paul Newman), becomes upset after her abortion is revealed in a newspaper.
Dillon was nominated for New Star of the Year at the Golden Globes after making her acting debut in Hal Asby’s 1976 film “Bound for Glory.”
In one of her best-known roles, Dillon played Ralphie’s mother, Mrs. Parker, in the beloved 1983 classic holiday movie, “A Christmas Story.”
When it debuted in 1983, the film earned just $20 million at the box office and was neither a smash hit nor a total flop. But repeated cable screenings over the past 40 years have turned “A Christmas Story” into a holiday staple, making seeing the cast, including Dillon, a holiday tradition.
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Peter Billingsley, who played Ralphie in the produced and starred 2022 sequel film, “A Christmas Story Christmas” on HBO Max, spoke with Steve Doocy on “Fox & Friends” about the longevity of the quirky, saying it’s “like comfort food to us. We just relate and we love them. So, it’s just enjoyable.”
Dillon also starred in ‘Slap Shot’, ‘Harry and the Hendersons’, ‘Captain America’, ‘Nightbreaker’, ‘The Prince of Tides’ and ‘Magnolia’.
Her television credits include roles in ‘The Twilight Zone’, ‘CHiPS’, ‘Tracey Takes On…’, ‘Judging Amy’, ‘Law and Order: Special Victims Unit’ and ‘Heartland’.
Dillon began her career as an improv comedian and stage actress. She starred as Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf,” which earned her a Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play. theater.
Following news of Dillon’s passing, celebrities took to social media to pay their respects to the late actress.
“Melinda Dillon was such a great actress, with a wonderful delicacy about her. She was a delight to direct in Prince of Tides. May she rest in peace,” Barbra Streisand tweeted.
“So very sad to hear of Melinda Dillon’s passing,” wrote Lou Diamond Phillips.
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He continued, “She played my adoptive mother in Sioux City, my second directing effort. What a light and what a blessing. So easy in her work that it was easy to forget how brilliant she was. I feel so lucky to have known her. RIP.”
“Melinda Dillon’s work has had such a profound effect on me,” Jon Cryer tweeted. “Every moment of her performance in Close Encounters was perfection. I’m so grateful that she decided to give her art to the world.”