Melinda Dillon

Melinda Ruth Dillon (born October 13, 1939) is an American actress. She received a 1963 Tony Award nomination for her Broadway debut in the original production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her roles as Jillian Guiler in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Teresa in Absence of Malice (1981). Her other film appearances include Bound for Glory (1976), F.I.S.T. (1978), A Christmas Story (1983), Harry and the Hendersons (1987), The Prince of Tides (1991) and Magnolia (1999).

Melinda Dillon
Melinda Dillon, c. 1976
Melinda Ruth Dillon

(1939-10-13) October 13, 1939
Years active1962–2007
Richard Libertini
(m. 1963; div. 1978)

Early life

Dillon was born in Hope, Arkansas, the daughter of E. Norine (née Barnett) and W. S. Dillon, an Army officer.[1] Dillon attended Hyde Park High School in Chicago.


Dillon was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play,[2] her first major role. Dillon got her start as an improvisational comedian, and as a stage actress as Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. She then appeared in You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running and Paul Sill's Story Theatre.

In 1959 she acted in The Cry of Jazz, an influential short film dealing with jazz music and Black culture. Dillon's first feature film was The April Fools in 1969. She also worked in television, notably in a guest-starring role in 1969 on an episode of the hit TV series Bonanza titled "A Lawman's Lot Is Not a Happy One" (Season 11). She co-starred with David Carradine in the 1976 Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory and was nominated in the Best Female Acting Debut category of the Golden Globe for her role as Memphis Sue.

The following year she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the role of a mother whose child is abducted by aliens in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. That same year, she made an uncredited cameo in The Muppet Movie and had a role in the comedy Slap Shot with Paul Newman. Four years later, Dillon was again nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as a suicidal teacher in Absence of Malice in 1981, working again with Newman.

As a comedian, Dillon is perhaps best known for her role as the mother of Ralphie and Randy in Bob Clark's 1983 movie A Christmas Story. The film was based on a series of short stories and novels written by Jean Shepherd about young Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun from Santa Claus.[3]

Four years later, Dillon co-starred with John Lithgow in the Bigfoot comedy Harry and the Hendersons. She continued to be active in stage and film throughout the 1990s, taking roles in the Barbra Streisand drama The Prince of Tides, the low-budget Lou Diamond Phillips thriller Sioux City, and the drama How to Make an American Quilt.[4]

In 1999 she appeared in Magnolia, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, as Rose Gator, the estranged wife of terminally ill television game-show host Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall). In 2005, she guest-starred in the episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit titled "Blood".

Personal life

Dillon married character actor Richard Libertini on September 30, 1963,[1] and had one child with him, Richard.[5] They divorced in 1978.[6]

She is a Methodist.[7]



1959The Cry of JazzFayeshort film
1969The April FoolsLeslie Hopkins
1976Bound for GloryMaryNominated—Golden Globe Award for New Star of the Year – Actress
1977Slap ShotSuzanne Hanrahan
1977Close Encounters of the Third KindJillian GuilerNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1978F.I.S.T.Anna Zarinkas
1979The Muppet MovieWoman with BalloonUncredited
1981Absence of MaliceTeresaKansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
1983A Christmas StoryMother Parker
1984SongwriterHoney Carder
1987Harry and the HendersonsNancy HendersonNominated—Saturn Award for Best Actress
1988Shattered InnocenceSharon Anderson
1989Staying TogetherEileen McDermott
1990Spontaneous CombustionNina
1990Captain AmericaMrs. Rogers
1991The Prince of TidesSavannah Wingo
1994Sioux CityLeah Goldman
1995To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie NewmarMerna
1995How to Make an American QuiltMrs. Darling
1996Entertaining Angels: The Dorothy Day StorySister Aloysius
1999MagnoliaRose GatorFlorida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2001Cowboy UpRose Braxton
2004Debating Robert LeeMrs. Lee
2005Adam & SteveDottie
2007Reign Over MeGinger Timpleman


1963The DefendersJeannie BirchEpisode: "The Empty Heart"
1964East Side/West SideStacey BarbellaEpisode: "The Beatnik and the Policeman"
1969BonanzaCissy SummersEpisode: "A Lawman's Lot Is Not a Happy One"
1975The JeffersonsDaphneEpisode: "Harry and Daphne"
1976SaraLily HenchardEpisode: "Lady"
1977EnigmaDora HerrenTelevision movie
1979CHiPsUnknownEpisode: "Death Watch"
1980The Shadow BoxAgnesTelevision movie
1981Fallen AngelSherry PhillipsTelevision movie
1981InsightJanetEpisode: "A Decision to Love"
1981InsightMysterious WomanEpisode: "Rendezvous"
1982InsightSusieEpisode: "The Fiddler"
1982The Juggler of Notre DameDulcyTelevision movie
1983The MississippiUnknownEpisode: "Cradle to Grave"
1983Right of WayRuda DwyerTelevision movie
1984InsightWomanEpisode: "The Game Room"
1985The Twilight ZonePennyEpisode: "A Little Peace and Quiet"
1985SpaceTelevision movie
1986Shattered SpiritsJoyce MollencampTelevision movie
1988Shattered InnocenceSharon AndersonTelevision movie
1989NightbreakerPaul BrownTelevision movie
1993Judgment Day: The John List StoryElanor ListTelevision movie
1994State of EmergencyBetty AndersonTelevision movie
Nominated—CableACE Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
1995The ClientVerna CaldwellEpisode: "The Peach Orchard"
1996Picket FencesMrs. KlausnerEpisode: "Liver Let Die"
2001Judging AmyViolet LoomisEpisode: "Surprised by Gravity"
2003The Lyon's DenCharlotte BarringtonEpisode: "Pilot"
2003A Painted HouseGran ChandlerTelevision movie
2005Law & Order: Special Victims UnitJenny RogersEpisode: "Blood"
2007HeartlandJanet Jacobs3 episodes


  1. "Melinda Dillon Biography (1939-)". Film Reference Library. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  2. "Melinda Dillon". Film Bug. Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  3. "Melinda Dillon". Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  4. "Melinda Dillon profile". Retrieved 2011-12-24.
  5. Kleiner, Dick (April 20, 1985). "Libertini Trying to Avoid Typecasting". Ocala Star-Banner. Newspaper Enterprise Association. pp. 10, 54 (TV Week supplement). Retrieved December 15, 2013.
  6. Pak, Eudie (December 14, 2012). "'A Christmas Story' Cast: Where Are They Now?". (FYI / A&E Networks). Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  7. "'Close Encounters' Says We Are Not Alone, but Melinda Dillon Often Has Been During a Traumatic Life". Retrieved 1 August 2018.

This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.