Elizabeth Peña, Co-Star of ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and ‘La Bamba,’ Dies at 55

Elizabeth Peñ, Co-Star of 'Jacob's Ladder'

Actress Elizabeth Peña, who co-starred in “Jacob’s Ladder” and “La Bamba,” died Oct. 14 in Los Angeles after suffering from a brief illness, according to her nephew, Latino Review writer Mario-Francisco Robles. She was 55 and had a career that spanned four decades.

Born in Elizabeth, N.J., and raised by Cuban immigrant parents, Peña began performing in New York theater, and got her professional start in 1978 with Leon Ichaso’s “El Super.”

She went on to appear in films including “Rush Hour,” “Blue Steel” and “Batteries Not Included”; starred in her own primetime series on ABC, “I Married Dora”; and lent her voice to the “Justice League” animated series, “American Dad!” and to Disney-Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” voicing Mirage.

Peña also had a recurring guest role on ABC’s “Modern Family” as Pilar, the mother of Sofia Vergara’s Gloria.

The actress recently wrapped work on the first season of El Rey Network’s “Matador,” in which she played the title character’s mother.

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña,” El Rey said in a statement. “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.”

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



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  1. John says:

    So sad to hear this actress died tomorrow. Such a tragedy and an amazing ability to see into the future!

  2. Ronald Joseph says:

    Elizabeth was a extremely competent actor. I was fortunate to work with her in film “Vibes”and a tv series”Shannon’s deal” I will miss her dearly. Ronald Joseph

  3. Janet Dunn says:

    Our thoughts are with her husband family and friends.R I P .Thank you for sharing your talent your beauty yourself.

  4. Lucila Armendariz says:

    May each passing day be filled with all her love and warmth for her children and husband & family May ur sarrow subside ….He only takes the BEST !

  5. Lydia says:

    My prayers of those Elizabeth left behind As you are weeping n are in sorrow over her being gone . My prayers are that God will give you strength ups at your passes all understanding god bless you♡

  6. chatles says:

    Great woman great actress..love her on rush hour. Funny wat color panties u have on or sorry i spreaded all the rumors dat we slept together she was funny wit all her abswers RIP ELIZABETH

  7. yesenia soto says:

    My husband Co workers are very saddened. They all talked about Rosie in La Bamba.
    TXI- Martin Henrietta. NEW BRAUNFELS, TX.

  8. Arlene Yates says:

    Nobody could of done a better job than Elizabeth in LaBamba. She became a legend to me in that movie and I watched it over and over again and I believe everyone loves her for who she was. Thanks for all your great movies and talent.

  9. Louisa says:

    A Love That will Go Unending
    Cousin Louie in Colorado
    The Change if the season is her Grace.

  10. Rhonda Howe says:

    So sad, Condolences to familia, she was so young, and truely a great actress, RIP

  11. my sympathy to her family.much love sent ur way.

  12. Carol Baker says:

    I want to thank her for keeping me entertained my favorite movie was la bamba I love her she has been in many other shows I will miss her but she is in a better place r.i.p. elizabeth

  13. Narvelle says:

    A Beautiful lady/Actress…my prayers go out to her loved ones… She will be missed…

  14. Jen says:

    What a loss. She was so talented and versatile. She made every movie she was in better by just having been part of it. In a day when there are such few strong, talented, women in film and tv why did she have to die so young? It regardless, I am just grateful to have been able to benefit from her talent and example as a fearless, respected woman of color. Thank you Elizabeth Pena for showing me that we can achieve anything we set our hearts on.

  15. Jack says:

    I really loved Ms. Peña in the John Sayles film LONE STAR opposite Chris Cooper.


  17. Franklin says:

    I just watched “La Bamba” on TV several days ago. She added a lot of talent to the movie. R.I.P. Your fans will miss you very much.

  18. carlos ze-dukes says:

    Elizabeth Pena…..was a fine Actress….who represented the Women Latina ACTRESSES worldwide with Dignity and Smarts…..Bless you …..you will never be forgotten…your movies will be for ever…..Love from the Zedukes family

  19. Leonel Morejon Almagro says:

    I am really sorry for her death. My sincere condolences to her family

  20. Angie López says:

    I’m so sorry the know of her dead. My sympathy to her family.

  21. Norma says:

    My thoughts and prayers to the family and friends. May God bring you strength and peace for the coming days. Our condolences to all that love Elizabeth.. :(

  22. My prayers are with the family she was a good actress she will be miss. Lord comfort the family for you are the only one that knows why you needed another angel.

  23. Joyce Gabor says:

    So sorry to hear about her passing ! Such a talented and beautiful woman ! I have followed her career for quite a long time ! She will be very missed ! May she R.I.P.

  24. Dan Williams says:

    I had the privilege of working with her on a film called “Becoming Eduardo” back in 2008. We became fast friends. She was a gem; I will miss her terribly.

  25. Patricia Mejia says:

    l loved this person in her T.V. roles she will be missed

  26. Alice Trevino says:

    My condolences to the family of this fallen star RIP

  27. EVELYN OTERO says:


  28. Tammy says:

    Didnt she start out on tv? I thought she played on I Married Dora, an old ABC show

  29. Leslie Edwards says:

    This news is so shocking! May she rest in peace. My prayers are with her family.

  30. Cathy says:

    Sorry to hear of her passing. Loved watching her in movies, a good actress and so pretty. Prayers for her family.

  31. Jesse Sanchez says:

    Such a wonderful talented lady,
    My heart goes out to her family. She will be greatly missed.

  32. machavilli says:

    Dayum good actress…

  33. bhi says:

    Jacob’s Ladder and The Second Civil War. Too soon.

  34. OH my gosh she was to young what did she die off , and this is terrible she was a wonderful actress .. oh my gosh this is a sad day .

  35. Pamela Miller says:

    How about saying what caused her to die so young?

  36. EclecticGal says:

    She was a wonderful actress. I shall miss her.

  37. She was a fine actress. R.I.P. Elizabeth

  38. Wally Davis says:

    Very Tragic, and I love her in Rush Hour2 and Tortilla Soup. she will be missed.

  39. rocky-o says:

    i loved her work…and she seemed like such a sweet soul…her work in ‘jacob’s ladder’ was brave and extraordinary…and her tv show, ‘i married dora’ had one of the best endings ever for a sitcom…as the family was rushing out the door, she stopped them in their tracks and said…’wait…we don’t have to go anywhere…we’re cancelled…’, and they all turned to the camera and the audience and started waving goodbye…brilliant……but now, it’s so sad to hear that she’s waved goodbye for good…rest in peace…

  40. John Ching says:

    Too young,,, too soon,,,rest in peace.

  41. Stl says:

    So sorry to hear this, I liked her.

  42. J.E. Vizzusi says:

    What a beautiful and talented actress and a wonderful inspiation to Hispanics. My condolences to her family and friends.

  43. Mile Missing says:

    May she REST IN PEACE.

  44. therealeverton says:

    R.I.P. What a shame, liked her and her work.

  45. OB says:

    How? Was she sick?

  46. Danofive0 says:

    One more good one gone.. May she be with the good Lord…

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