‘A Christmas Story’ Actress Melinda Dillion Dead At 83

(Photo by Morgan Lieberman/Getty Images)

Gretchen Clayson Contributor
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Melinda Dillion, the actress best remembered for her roles in the much-loved holiday film “A Christmas Story” and sci-fi classic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” died Jan. 9, her family confirmed Friday.

Dillion began her storied career as an improvisation comedian with Chicago’s Second City comedy troupe after stepping in as an understudy for a sick Barbara Harris. In her first major role, Dillion debuted on Broadway as Honey in Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” That role earned her a Tony nomination in 1963 for featured actress in a play, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Dillion was nominated for her first Oscar for her portrayal of Jillian Guiler, a mother whose son is abducted by aliens in Steven Spielberg’s classic science fiction hit “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” Dillion was nominated a second time for her role as Teresa, a suicidal teacher, in “Absence of Malice.” (RELATED: ‘Laverne & Shirley’ Actress Cindy Williams Dead At 75)

Her most memorable role came in 1983 as Ralphie Parker’s mother in the holiday classic “A Christmas Story.” Dillion went on to star alongside John Lithgow in the 1987 film “Harry and the Hendersons” and in 1990 starred alongside her “Christmas Story” co-star Darren McGavin in the film “Captain America,” according to IMDb.

Dillon is survived by her son Richard Libertini Jr.