Tony nominee Melinda Dillon, who originated the role of Honey in Edward Albee's classic play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, passed away January 9. She was 83.
Ms. Dillon, who was Tony-nominated for her portrayal of Honey, made her Broadway debut in the play at 23, leading to a vibrant Broadway career that included starring roles in You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water's Running, A Way of Life, Paul Sills' Story Theatre, and Ovid's Metamorphoses. She received the 1963 Theatre World Award and was married to her occasional co-star, Richard Libertini, from 1963 to 1978.
Ms. Dillon retreated from acting by the end of the 1960's, citing a mental breakdown and discomfort with public life. She focused her energies on raising her son, also named Richard, until her marriage ended, at which point she returned to the profession out of necessity. In time, she came to find acting to be a comfort.
In 1977 Ms. Dillon received an Oscar nomination for her work on Close Encounters of the Third Kind, leading to a shift of her career toward film and television. Known for her portrayal of psychologically fragile characters, Ms. Dillon was immortalized for generations as the frazzled Mother Parker in A Christmas Story.
She received a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Memphis Sue in the Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory, starring alongside David Carradine, and in 1981, she was again Oscar-nominated, this time for the role of Teresa, the suicidal teacher in Absence of Malice opposite Paul Newman.
In recent years, Ms. Dillon had exited public life, returning to her private existence after retiring from acting in 2007. She is survived by her son Richard and her extended family.