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.”
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 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.