It is with great sadness that we report the passing of Melinda Dillon, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for her roles in the films “A Christmas Story” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Dillon died on January 9, 2021 in Long Beach, California, according to the Neptune Society, the cremation provider. She was 83.
Dillon played the mother in “A Christmas Story,” a nostalgic throwback to a boy who craves a toy gun. Released in 1983, it found an annual holiday video and television audience. Her performance earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She was also nominated for her role in the Steven Spielberg classic, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” in which she searches for her baby boy after he’s been kidnapped by aliens. In 1981, she was nominated for her role in the drama “Absence of Malice,” in which she plays Paul Newman’s girlfriend, who is distressed by a reporter’s coverage of her abortion.
Dillon had a long and successful career in theater and television, appearing in films such as “Slap Shot,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” and “Bound for Glory.” She also appeared in episodes of the television series “Judging Amy” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.” Before making films, Dillon was nominated for a Tony Award in the original cast of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway in the 1960s.
Hollywood peers and fans have taken to social media to pay tribute to Dillon. Barbra Streisand tweeted, “Melinda Dillon was such a great actress with a wonderful tenderness. It was a pleasure directing Prince of Tides. May she rest in peace.” Lou Diamond Phillips wrote, “So very, very sad to hear of the passing of Melinda Dillon. She played my adoptive mother in Sioux City, my second directorial effort. What a light and a blessing. So effortless in her work that it was easy to overlook just how brilliant she was. I feel so lucky to have known her. RIP.”
We send our thoughts and prayers to Melinda Dillon’s family and friends during this difficult time.