Mary Ellen Trainor, ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ‘Goonies’ Actress, Dies at 62

Mary Ellen Trainor
Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

Actress and philanthropist Mary Ellen Trainor, who appeared in every “Lethal Weapon” film and played the mother in “Goonies,” died at her home in Montecito, Calif., on May 20. She was 62.

The San Francisco-born Trainor moved in 1980 to Los Angeles, where she married director Robert Zemeckis and discovered her calling as an actress. She started a career in television and film, beginning with the role of Elaine in “Romancing the Stone” and Mrs. Walsh in “The Goonies.” She also appeared in all four “Lethal Weapon” movies, “Die Hard,” “Scrooged,” “Ghostbusters II,” “Back to the Future Part II,” “Forrest Gump,” the 2003 “Freaky Friday” and racked up scores of television appearances, including leading roles in “Parker Lewis Can’t Lose” and “Relativity.”

While studying broadcast journalism at San Diego State, she was discovered by a radio station manager and asked to be an on-air personality for KSDO. She soon earned a position at KCBS as station editor, paving the way for a career in entertainment.

She and Zemeckis divorced in 2000. She supported dozens of causes, from education and disaster relief to cancer research and safe water for developing countries.

She is survived by her son, Alex; her mother, Jane; and siblings Ned, Jack, Barbara and Carolyn.

A memorial service will take place June 19 at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, 1300 E. Valley Road, Montecito, CA.

Donations may be made to Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation and Wounded Warriors.

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  1. Kathleen Wuerth Sonnabend says:

    Mary Ellen and I attended the same Catholic girl’s high school where I remember her as friendly, out-going and a class leader. I moved east shortly after graduation, and had no contact until 1996 when I wrote her to ask for an autographed Back to the Future poster for an American Heart Association fundraising auction. She graciously complied and sent me a kind note. I was so saddened to learn of her death, but not surprised to learn that she is recognized as a philanthropist. It was always fun to see her in movies. My heart goes out to her family and especially to her son.

  2. Kristin says:

    My deepest condolences to Mary Ellen’s family and friends. My husband and I had the pleasure of meeting her once at Pizzeria Mozza. We thought she looked familiar, but had no idea she was one of our favorites: the mom from “The Goonies.” We were sitting at the pizza bar, and had just returned to the States after 8 months away and got to chatting with her about travel, life, and pizza. She left after she finished her pizza, and then– in spite of our protest– bought us our meal and told us “My compliments. It’s nice to see two people being happy. Stay happy.” Ever since, I’ve tried to do the same– doing something nice for people I don’t know– and definitely by following her injunction to stay happy. Thank you to a great lady for the pizza, the good advice, and all the great films– especially “The Goonies.”

  3. Joe says:

    I hate cancer too. :(

    • Thank you, Joe. I was wondering what the cause of death was. It’s a shame to lose a good person at such a young age. My deepest condolences to her family and friends.

  4. Kathie says:

    I feel so bad for her family and friends.. I just lost a close friend to cancer last Wednesday, she was only 47! I hate cancer!

  5. Anna says:

    She died of pancreatic cancer, it was stated. 62 isn’t old. I liked her in all the movies she was in. Sad to hear this.

  6. TM says:

    She’s immortal. Better CV than Brad Pitt & Tom Cruise combined. Isn’t that amazing?

  7. Orville says:

    Her death, from pancreatic cancer, was made public by her longtime friend, Kathleen Kennedy, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

  8. She died of old age. Most people die in their 60’s. Deal with it.

  9. says:

    Why did she die so young???

    • RichardH says:

      If she had died of heart disease, cancer, suicide, or drugs, we would have been told. Makes one wonder what exotic cause of death she suffered.

  10. JJ says:

    Sad – I always liked her, especially in Goonies – How did she die : (

    • David Benjamin says:

      A good friend of mine has pancreatic cancer. She’s doing heavy chemo treatments. 10% chance of recovery. Stay strong, Kimmie! We love you!

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