Close Encounters and A Christmas Story actress Melinda Dillon dies

Melinda Dillon stars as Mother Parker in A Christmas Story in 1983

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Melinda Dillon was best known for huge hit films including Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A Christmas Story. The movie star’s loves one confirmed the tragic news last night.

She died on January 9, 2023, but no cause of death has been given.

Her obituary simply read: “Melinda Ruth Dillon, age 83, of Los Angeles, California passed away on Monday, January 9, 2023.”

Details of her memorial service have yet to be shared.

Born in Arkansas, Melinda was raised in Alabama before moving to Chicago.

She went on to receive a 1963 Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut in the original production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Academy Award nominations soon followed. Her first for playing Jillian Guiler in Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977.

The blockbuster, directed by Steven Spielberg, also starred Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, Cary Guffey and François Truffaut.

It tells the story of blue collar worker Roy, whose life changes forever after encounter with a UFO.

Just four years later she was recognised again for portraying Teresa Perrone in Absence of Malice.

Melinda is well known for her role as Mother Parker in the holiday classic A Christmas Story.

Her other film roles include Bound for Glory (1976), F.I.S.T. (1978), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The Prince of Tides (1991), and Magnolia (1999), for which she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award.

She was married to Catch 22 actor Richard Libertini and together they had a son. They divorced in 1978.

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They met while she was working as “the coat check girl” for The Second City, an improvisational comedy troupe, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Following Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, she admitted that the intense production made her “go crazy”.

She spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

“I was in Virginia Woolf, and I just went crazy; it was really that simple,” she told the New York Times at the time.

“We had to have a whole different cast for that, but I was called in to do it many, many times because the gal would get sick.”

Melinda went on: “I would do it three hours in the afternoon, then study with Lee Strasberg for two hours, and do the play three hours at night…

“I just crumbled inside. I don’t know why.”

Her retirement from acting came in 2007, with her last film credit being Reign Over Me starring Adam Sandler.

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