It is with a heavy heart that we mourn the passing of the iconic Melinda Dillon, an Oscar and Tony-nominated actor who is best remembered for her roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Absence of Malice, and the beloved holiday classic A Christmas Story. Dillon passed away on January 9th at the age of 83, leaving behind a legacy of incredible performances that will live on forever.

Dillon was born in Hope, Arkansas in 1939 and graduated high school in Chicago before studying acting at DePaul University. She was twice nominated for an Oscar, first for her role as Jillian Guiler in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and again for Best Supporting Actress for Absence of Malice in 1981. Her Tony nomination came from her role as Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

But it’s her role as Ralphie and Randy’s mother in the holiday classic A Christmas Story that has made her a household name. Her portrayal of the loving yet strict mother who warned a generation about the dangers of shooting their eye out with a BB gun has been immortalized in the hearts of many.

Dillon was married to late actor Richard Libertini from 1963 until their 1978 divorce and had a son. She will be remembered for her incredible performances and her impact on the entertainment industry. Rest in peace, Melinda Dillon.