“A Christmas Story” actress Melinda Dillion has died at the age of 83.
Her family announced the tragic news in an obituary Friday, saying the beloved actress died on Jan. 9. The cause of death has yet to be revealed.
Prior to her role as Ralphie’s mother in the Christmas classic, she received a Tony nomination in 1963 for her Broadway debut as Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”
Despite the honor, Dillion felt like she had “crumbled inside” and had to leave the production after nine months to seek treatment at a psychiatric hospital.
“I was in ‘Virginia Woolf,’ and I just went crazy; it was really that simple,” she said in a 1976 interview with the New York Times.
“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.”
After getting out of the hospital and focusing on film, Dillion went on to garner two Oscar nominations for her performances in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Absence of Malice.”
Although she never took an Academy Award home, her successful career spanned decades until she officially retired from acting in 2007. Some of her final credits included medical drama “Heartland” and “Law and Order.”
Dillon was married to Richard Libertini for over a decade and the pair welcomed her only son, Richard Libertini Jr. The couple got divorced in 1978 and the actress never remarried.