Melinda Dillon, Christmas Story Star & Two Time Oscar Nominee, Dies At 83

Melinda Dillon, A Christmas Story star and two time Oscar nominee, dies at 83, according to a statement made by family who reported her passing.

Actor Melinda Dillon has passed away at the age of 83. Raised in both Arkansas and Alabama, Dillon made the move to Hollywood in the 1960s, launching her decades-long acting career. Dillon is best known for her roles in the Steven Spielberg sci-fi staple Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the holiday classic A Christmas Story. Dillon has been nominated for numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe for her depiction of Memphis Sue in 1976’s Bound for Glory, while her portrayals of Jillian Guiler in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Teresa in 1981’s Absence of Malice garnered her two Academy Award nominations.


Deadline has reported that Dillon passed away on January 9 at the age of 83 in Los Angeles. Her family gave no details about the cause of death in their statement, but shared that her remains would be cremated. Dillon’s final roles before her retirement in 2007 after a nearly half-century-long career were as Ginger Timpleman in the Adam Sandler drama Reign Over Me and as the recurring Janet Jacobs in medical drama series Heartland. Dillon is survived by her son with late actor Richard Libertini.

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Remembering The Legacy Of Melinda Dillon

Melinda Dillon in Close Encounters of the Third Kind

After landing some work in student theater productions early in her career, Dillon went on to star in a few Broadway productions and gained more prominent recognition with her work in the original Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, which earned her a Tony Award nomination. Her first feature film role was in romantic comedy The April Fools, in 1969. That same year, she also made her television debut guest starring in the hit Western television series Bonanza. In addition to her iconic stints in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A Christmas Story, the former of which netted her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, Dillon also notably starred in such films as Harry and the Hendersons and Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia, as well as such shows as the anthology series Insight.

Gifted with the ability to traverse all genres, Dillon consistently displayed her comedic chops and dramatic flair throughout her career. The stories she was a part of and her performances are forever imprinted in the memory of audiences — whether the moment in A Christmas Story when her character warns her son Ralphie that she’ll shoot his eye out, or in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, when she heroically fights off UFOs attempting to invade her home. With these roles, and more, Melinda Dillon will forever be remembered by audiences and her peers for years to come.

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