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Modern Family guest star dies at age 55

2014-10-16 07:35
Elizabeth Pena

Los Angeles — Elizabeth Pena, the versatile actress who shifted between dramatic roles in such films as Lone Star and comedic parts in TV shows like Modern Family, has died. She was 55.

Pena's manager, Gina Rugolo, said on Wednesday the Cuban-American actress died on Tuesday in Los Angeles of natural causes after a brief illness. No other details were provided.

Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Cuban immigrant parents, Pena's Hollywood career spanned four decades and included roles in such movies as La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob's Ladder and Rush Hour. In filmmaker John Sayles' Lone Star, she memorably portrayed a history teacher who rekindles a romance with an old flame, played by Chris Cooper.

Pena appeared on such TV shows as L.A. Law, Dream On, Resurrection Blvd. and Modern Family, where she played the mother of Sofia Vergara's character, Gloria.

She starred in the 1980s sitcom I Married Dora in the titular role as a housekeeper from El Salvador who weds her employer to avoid deportation.

Pena also provided her voice to Disney-Pixar's The Incredibles, the Justice League cartoon series and Seth MacFarlane's American Dad. She most recently appeared on the El Rey Network drama Matador.

Fellow celebrities have reacted to Elizabeth's death on Twitter, sending their love and condolences to her family.


RIP #ElizabethPeña. An actress I grew up admiring & had the pleasure of working with & hiring on Nothing Like The Holidays. A consummate professional with razor sharp wit. One of the greats. You will be missed.

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Elizabeth is survived by her husband, two children, mother and sister. 

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