Melinda Dillon, Beloved Christmas Story Matriarch, Dead at 83

Melinda Dillon, who played Ralphie’s mom in the holiday classic A Christmas Story, died on Jan. 9 at the age of 83, the actress’ family and friends have announced. A cause of death was not released.

Dillon co-starred alongside Peter Billingsley as frazzled mom Mother Parker in A Christmas Story, which hit theaters in 1983 and went on to become a cable TV holiday staple. Dillon is also known for starring in Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a mother whose child is abducted by aliens, a performance for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1978. She was nominated for an Oscar again in 1982 for the film Absence of Malice, starring opposite Paul Newman and Sally Field. Her other film credits include Harry and the Hendersons, Slap Shot, The Prince of Tides and Magnolia.

Dillon’s last acting credit is a three-episode part on the Treat Williams series Heartland in 2007. Her other TV appearances include guest spots on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Judging Amy, Tracey Takes On… and Picket Fences.

In November 2022, HBO Max released A Christmas Story Christmas, the highly anticipated follow-up to A Christmas Story that featured nearly all of the original cast. Julie Hagerty, of Airplane! fame, stepped in as Ralphie’s mother in the film sequel.

The Hollywood Reporter was first to report of Dillon’s passing.

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