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Although she was not a mega star, there is no question that actress Elizabeth Pena left her mark on the entertainment industry playing comedic roles in television, dramatic parts in films, and doing voiceovers. In an official statement released by her mother, Gina Rugolo, the Cuban American actress passed away from natural causes after being ill for a short period.
Pena was born in New Jersey to Cuban immigrants parents. She had a genuine love for acting and enjoyed a more than 40-year career in television and on the big screen. One of her most notable roles was in the film “Lone Star”. She played a history teacher who rekindled a romance with an old flame, played by Chris Cooper.
She also received rave reviews for her comedic role on the television series “Modern Family”, playing the mother of Sofia Vergara’s character, Gloria. However, Pena was involved in many other television projects to include “L.A. Law,” ”Dream On,” ‘and ‘Resurrection Blvd”, as well as film projects like “La Bamba”, “Jacob’s Ladder”, “Rush Hour”, and “Down and Out in Beverly Hills”.
Earlier on in her career, Pena starred in the 1980s sitcom, “I Married Dora”. For this role, she portrayed an El Salvadorian housekeeper who ultimately marries her employer as a way to avoid being deported.
More recently, she appeared on the El Rey Network drama “Matador” and provided her voice to Seth MacFarlane’s “American Dad”, along with the cartoon series “Justice League” and Disney-Pixar’s “The Incredibles”.
According to family members and close friends, Pena was an amazing role model. She was also an amazing performer and inspiration to everyone who had the honor of meeting her. In her passing, Pena is survived by her mother, sister, husband, and two children. She was just 55 years old.
Many celebrities have reached out to the family via phone calls, cards, and social media, offering their condolences in Pena’s untimely death.