Elizabeth Peña of 'Modern Family,' 'La Bamba' dies

Peña recently appeared in such films as 'The Incredibles" and 'Plush' as well as TV programs including 'Modern Family' and 'American Dad.'

Mark J. Terrill/AP
Elizabeth Peña arrives for the Los Angeles premiere of 'Nothing Like the Holidays.'

Elizabeth Peña, 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.

Peña's manager, Gina Rugolo, said Wednesday the Cuban-American actress died Tuesday in Los Angeles.

Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Cuban immigrant parents, Peña'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 his review, Monitor film critic David Sterritt wrote that Peña provides “solid support” to the lead actors in “La Bamba.” In filmmaker John Sayles' "Lone Star," she memorably portrayed a history teacher who rekindles a romance with an old flame, played by Chris Cooper. She also starred in such films as the 2005 movie “How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer,” the 2005 film “Transamerica,” the 2008 movie “Nothing Like the Holidays,” and the 2011 film “The Perfect Family.”

Peña 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.

Peña also provided her voice to Disney-Pixar's "The Incredibles" as mysterious villainess Mirage, the "Justice League" cartoon series as Paran Dul, and Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad."

Peña most recently appeared on the El Rey Network drama "Matador."

"She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word," the network said in a statement. "Our thoughts are with Elizabeth's family and friends during this difficult time. She will be deeply missed."

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

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
Real news can be honest, hopeful, credible, constructive.
What is the Monitor difference? Tackling the tough headlines – with humanity. Listening to sources – with respect. Seeing the story that others are missing by reporting what so often gets overlooked: the values that connect us. That’s Monitor reporting – news that changes how you see the world.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Elizabeth Peña of 'Modern Family,' 'La Bamba' dies
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today