‘Close Encounters Of The Third Kind’ And ‘A Christmas Story’ Actress Dies At 83
You probably know actress Melinda Dillon as Ralphie’s mom in the movie “A Christmas Story” or from her roles in movies including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Magnolia.” Unfortunately, Dillon died in Los Angeles on January 9, 2023. She was 83 years old.
Upon hearing the news of her death, multiple people posted tributes to her on social media, remembering her best performances and her amazing talent.
R.I.P. Melinda Dillon, extraordinary in so many movies, including three of the ones I’ve revisited the most in my life (Magnolia, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, A Christmas Story). Few could project maternal strength and anxieties as well as her. pic.twitter.com/KlzeZ8eiKj
— William Friedkin Truths (@LazlosGhost) February 3, 2023
Saddened to hear of the passing of talented actress Melinda Dillon at the age of 83. A Christmas Story is an annual tradition/favorite for me. So many great roles throughout her career. #RIPMelindaDillon pic.twitter.com/6ihwj6mGZx
— LandOfThe80s (@landofthe80s) February 5, 2023
So very, very sad to hear of the passing of Melinda Dillon. She played my adopted mother in Sioux City, my second directorial effort. What a Light and a Blessing. So effortless in her work that it was easy to overlook how brilliant she was. I feel so lucky to have known her. RIP https://t.co/PiTu3iF7Uq
— Lou Diamond Phillips (@LouDPhillips) February 4, 2023
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. pic.twitter.com/CuLJRlAP93
— Barbra Streisand (@BarbraStreisand) February 4, 2023
Peter Billingsley, the actor who played Ralphie in “A Christmas Story,” also posted a tribute. On Instagram, he posted a picture of his movie family and wrote, “She was kind, supportive, cool, thoughtful, giving and committed. Her body of work demonstrated her incredible range and talent. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to call her my on-screen mother. Rest in peace, Melinda.”
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In 1977, Dillon was nominated for an Oscar for her role in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” That same year, she received a Golden Globe nomination of her role in “Bound for Glory.” Then, in 1982, she was once again nominated for an Oscar, this time for her role in “Absence of Malice.”
Before she made a name for herself in Hollywood, Dillon started her acting career on stage. She performed in Chicago’s second city as an actor and improv comic. In 1962, she earned a Tony award nomination for her role in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf.”
Dillon was born in Arkansas and spent her youth in Alabama before moving to Germany for 4 years. She graduated from high school in Chicago and also attended college there, earning a degree from the Art Institute of Chicago’s Goodman School of Drama.
Dillon is survived by her son, Richard Libertini Jr. She divorced her husband, Richard Libertini, in 1978.
Learn more about Dillon’s life and career in the video below.