The film and theater world mourns the loss of Melinda Dillon, the talented actress best known for her role as Mother Parker in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story” and leading roles in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Absence of Malice”. She passed away on January 9, 2023 at the age of 83 in Los Angeles.
Dillon first captured the hearts of audiences with her Oscar-nominated performance as a mother searching for her abducted son in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 science fiction epic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. Her portrayal of the matriarch of the Parker family in “A Christmas Story” is also a memorable one, as she warned Ralphie about the dangers of his coveted BB rifle.
In 1981, Dillon received another Oscar nomination for her supporting role in “Absence of Malice”, where she played a close friend to Paul Newman’s character. Throughout her 45-year career, Dillon worked with renowned filmmakers including Spielberg, Sydney Pollock, Norman Jewison, and Barbra Streisand.
In addition to her film roles, Dillon was also a versatile stage actress, appearing in five Broadway productions, including her Broadway debut as Honey in the original 1962 production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” She was the last surviving cast member from the production.
Throughout the 60s and 70s, Dillon guest-starred on popular TV series such as “Bonanza” and “The Jeffersons”. She later appeared in several TV movies before landing her role in “Absence of Malice”. During the 90s and 2000s, Dillon returned to guest-starring on TV shows including “Picket Fences”, “Tracey Takes On…”, “Judging Amy”, and “Law & Order: SVU”.