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.