It is with a heavy heart that we report the passing of Melinda Dillon, a Tony and Oscar-nominated actress known for her work in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Christmas Story, and Absence of Malice. Born on October 13, 1939 in Hope, Arkansas, Dillon was a pioneer in the world of improvisational comedy and theatre, and her career spanned decades.

Dillon began her career as a coat check girl at The Second City, and quickly rose to fame after being nominated for a Tony award for her first major role in the 1962 Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. She would later make her feature film debut in The April Fools, and was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance as Memphis Sue in the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory.

In 1977, Dillon earned an Oscar nomination for her performance in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Her second Oscar nomination came four years later, for her work in the drama Absence of Malice. Her most well-known performance might be as Mother Parker in A Christmas Story, the 1983 film that has become a holiday classic in the decades since.

Dillon also made appearances in Harry and the Hendersons, Magnolia, The Twilight Zone, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Tracey Takes On…, Reign Over Me, and Heartland. She also portrayed Mrs. Rogers in the 1990 Captain America television movie.

The cause of death is currently unknown at this time, but we extend our deepest sympathies to Dillon’s family, friends, and fans. Her legacy will live on through her incredible body of work, and she will be remembered fondly.