We are sad to report that Melinda Dillon, the beloved actress who warned Ralphie he’d shoot his eye out in the classic holiday movie A Christmas Story, has passed away at the age of 83. Dillon was an Oscar-nominated actress, as well as a Broadway star, with a career that spanned over four decades. She was a beloved figure in the entertainment industry, and her passing will be mourned by many.
Dillon was born in Hope, Arkansas in 1939. She moved to Chicago as a teenager and worked as an improv comedy club’s first-ever coat-check girl. After studying acting in college, she moved to New York and made her Broadway debut in the original 1963 production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, earning a Tony nomination for her performance as Honey. Dillon starred in her first film, The April Fools, in 1969 and went on to receive a Golden Globe nomination for her role in the 1976 Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory.
Her most memorable role was as Ralphie’s mom in A Christmas Story, and she also had memorable roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Absence of Malice. Other notable film and TV credits include Magnolia, The Muppet Movie, Harry and the Hendersons, Slap Shot, Sioux City, and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. She retired from acting in 2007.
Dillon married actor Richard Libertini, whom she met at the Second City; the pair divorced in 1978. She is survived by their son, Richard Libertini Jr. Her family members told Giant Freakin Robot that she had requested to be cremated with her ashes scattered into the Pacific Ocean.
We will miss Melinda Dillon, and her memory will live on in the classic films she starred in. Her spirit and talent will be remembered for years to come.