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Actress Melinda Dillon of ‘A Christmas Story’ and ‘Close Encounters’ dies at 83

<i>Mgm/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock</i><br/>Actress Melinda Dillon
Actress Melinda Dillon

By Jay Croft, CNN

Actress Melinda Dillon, a two-time Oscar nominee best known for the movies “A Christmas Story” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” has died, according to a cremation service in Long Beach, California. She was 83.

Dillon died January 9, according to Neptune Society, the cremation provider. No cause of death was given. Her death became widely known on Friday.

She played the mother in “A Christmas Story,” a nostalgic look back at a boy longing for a toy rifle. It was released in 1983 and went on to find an annual holiday audience on video and TV.

Before that, she scored Oscar nominations as Best Supporting Actress twice. In Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters,” she searches for her little boy after aliens abduct him. And in “Absence of Malice,” she plays Paul Newman’s friend tormented by a reporter’s coverage of her abortion.

She also appeared in “Slap Shot,” “Harry and the Hendersons,” and “Bound for Glory” and episodes of TV series “Judging Amy” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

Before making movies, Dillon was nominated for a Tony Award in the original cast of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” on Broadway in the 1960s.

Hollywood colleagues and fans tweeted tributes.

“Melinda Dillon was such a great actress, with a wonderful delicacy about her. She was a delight to direct in Prince of Tides. May she rest in peace,” Barbra Streisand wrote.

Lou Diamond Phillips wrote: “So very, very sad to hear of the passing of Melinda Dillon. She played my adopted 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 how brilliant she was. I feel so lucky to have known her. RIP.”

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CNN’s Taylor Romine contributed to this report.

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