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Melinda Dillon, mom in 'A Christmas Story,' dies at 83

Dillon was twice nominated for an Oscar, but is perhaps most recognizable as Ralphie's mom in "A Christmas Story."

LOS ANGELES — Melinda Dillon, an Oscar- and Tony-nominated actor known for her work in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Absence of Malice" and her portrayal as Ralphie and Randy's mother in the holiday classic "A Christmas Story," died on Jan. 9, her family announced. She was 83.

She was nominated for a Tony for playing Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. She left the play after a short stint and spent time in a mental hospital, she told the New York Times.

Dillon received a supporting actress Oscar nomination for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," Steven Spielberg's film in which she plays Jillian Guiler, a single mother who travels to Devils Tower with Richard Dreyfuss' Roy Neary to find her son, who's been abducted by aliens.

She was nominated again for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for "Absence of Malice" in 1981.

She later co-starred with John Lithgow in "Harry and the Hendersons" and warmed hearts -- and helped keep BB guns out of the hands of kids everywhere -- as the mother in "A Christmas Story," the 1983 classic directed by Bob Clark.

Dillon was born in 1939 in Hope, Arkansas. She graduated high school in Chicago and studied acting at what is now DePaul University. She was married to late actor Richard Libertini from 1963 until divorcing in 1978 divorce, and had a son.

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