Elizabeth Pena Dies: Actress In ‘Modern Family,’ ‘Matador,’ ‘La Bamba’

Actress Elizabeth Pena died October 14 of natural causes after brief illness. She was 55.

Pena received an Independent Spirit Award for her work in John Sayles’ Lone Star. She was perhaps best known for her roles in La Bamba and Down And Out In Beverly Hills, and for a recurring role in Modern Family as Pilar, the mother of Sofia Vergara‘s character. She also recently played the mother of the principal character in the recently wrapped first season of El Rey Network‘s Matador, and recently appeared in TNT’s Major Crimes.

The El Rey Network issued a statement about Pena’s death: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña. She was a role model, a truly extraordinary performer and an inspiration in every sense of the word. Our thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time. She ‎will be deeply missed.”

Pena starred for three seasons in Showtime’s Resurrection Boulevard, for which she received an Alma Award in 2001, and for which she directed an episode. She also directed an episode of Nickelodeon’s The Brothers Garcia.

Other notable roles included feature films Batteries Not Included, Tortilla Soup, Adrian Lyne’s Jacob’s Ladder, Rush Hour and The Waterdance. She received a second Alma Award for her work in Tortilla Soup.

She also had a significant career in voice-over work, most notably as the “Mirage” character in Pixar’s The Incredibles, and also was a regular in PBS cartoon The Misadventures Of Maya And Miguel.

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