Obituary: Melinda Dillon 1939-2023


Two-time Academy Award-nominated actress and former Malibu resident Melinda Dillon passed on January 9, 2023. She was 83.

Dillon lived in Malibu from 1976 to 1998, during which time she was an active parishioner at Our Lady of Malibu Catholic Church.

She is most fondly remembered for her iconic roles as all-American mothers — first opposite Richard Dreyfuss in Steven Spielberg’s iconic “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), for which she received her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, also the first nominated performance for any actor in a Spielberg film. Memorable turns in holiday favorite “A Christmas Story” (1983) and “Harry and the Hendersons” (1987) followed. She received a second Academy Award nomination in the same category for Sidney Pollack’s “Absence of Malice” (1981).

Dillon is among the few screen performers with multiple performances in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, which recently added her debut film, the landmark 1959 “The Cry of Jazz,” which she filmed when she was 19. She would go on to receive a Tony Award nomination for her role as Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” For her double role opposite David Carradine in Hal Ashby’s “Bound for Glory” (1976), she was honored with a Golden Globe Award nomination for New Star of the Year.

Other memorable performances include “Slap Shot” (1977), “F.I.S.T.” (1978), “Songwriter” (1984), Barbra Streisand’s “The Prince of Tides” (1991), and Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Magnolia” (1999). Her final film was Mike Binder’s September 11-themed “Reign Over Me” (2007).