Melinda Dillon, star of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, A Christmas Story, has died at 83

Melinda Dillon, star of Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A Christmas Story, has died at the age of 83.

Last Updated on February 8, 2023

Melinda Dillon, died, Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Sad news today as it’s been reported that Melinda Dillon, best known for her roles in Close Encounters of the Third Kind and A Christmas Story, has died at the age of 83.

Melinda Dillon played Jillian Guiler in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, a mother whose child is abducted by aliens. She was cast in the role just three days before filming began on the recommendation of Hal Ashby, who had directed her in Bound for Glory. Dillon’s performance would earn her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. She also played Ralphie’s mother in Bob Clark’s A Christmas Story, memorably telling him that he would shoot his eye out if he got a Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle. She received another Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role in Sydney Pollack’s Absence of Malice. She starred alongside Paul Newman and Sally Field as a young woman who takes her own life after a reporter writes a story about her abortion.

After coming to New York City, Melinda Dillion was cast as Honey in the original Broadway production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opposite Uta Hagen, Arthur Hill, and George Grizzard. She told The New York Times that her time in the production was so intense that she had to spend time in a psychiatric hospital. “I was in Virginia Woolf, and I just went crazy; it was really that simple,” Dillon said. “I think it was the way I was living; the play was so long and the actors’ union wouldn’t let us play the matinee. 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. 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. Then, George Grizzard left to do Hamlet, and a strange thing happened. I had learned to lean on George hard, and I just crumbled inside. I don’t know why.

She also appeared in movies such as The Aprils Fools, Slap Shot, F.I.S.T., The Muppet Movie, Songwriter, Harry and the Hendersons, Staying Together, Spontaneous Combustion, Captain America, The Prince of Tides, Sioux City, To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar, How to Make an American Quilt, Magnolia, and Reign Over Me. Dillon also made appearances in TV shows like Bonanza, The Jeffersons, CHiPs, The Twilight Zone, Picket Fences, Judging Amy, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Heartland. Dillon had retired from acting in 2007, so she didn’t return for last year’s A Christmas Story Christmas, and Julie Hagerty filled her role.

Source: THR

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.