Melinda DIllon, best known from her roles in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and the holiday classic “A Christmas Story”, died last month at age 83.

According to an obituary issued by her family, Dillon died on Jan. 9.

Dillon got her start on stage, and made an auspicious debut on Broadway in the 1963 production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf”, for which she won a Tony nomination and a Theatre World Award.

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Onscreen, Dillon appeared in the Oscar-winning film “Bound for Glory”, Paul Newman’s cult-favourite hockey comedy “Slap Shot” and family film “Harry and the Hendersons”, in addition to memorable roles in “F.I.S.T.”, “The Prince of Tides” and “Magnolia”.

Dillon received her a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination in 1978 for her performance in “Close Encounters” as Jillian Guiler, a single mother whose young son is abducted by aliens.

Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock
Photo by Moviestore/Shutterstock

In 1982, she was nominated for her second Oscar, this time for her role in the Paul Newman legal drama “Absence of Malice”.

Dillon was also a familiar face on television for decades, starting with her TV debut in a 1963 episode of “The Defenders” to her final TV credit in 2007, in “Heartland”. She was also seen in “Law & Order: SVU”, “CHiPs”, “The Jeffersons” and “Bonanza”, in addition to multiple made-for-TV movies.

Of all her roles, Dillon was best known for playing the mother of air rifle-coveting Ralphie (Peter Billingsley) in “A Christmas Story”, a holiday favourite that continues to air repeatedly each Yuletide season.

Photo by Mgm/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock
Photo by Mgm/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock

Dillon’s final film role was in 2007’s “Reign Over Me”, in which she played the mother of Adam Sandler’s character.

Dillon is survived by a son, from her marriage to late actor Richard Libertini.

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