Elizabeth Peña, a film and television actress who most recently appeared in Matador, died on Tuesday at age 55.
Her nephew Mario-Francisco Robles broke the news in an obituary on Latino Review, saying the actress died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles . The cause of death is not yet known.
Peña had a career spanning almost 40 years, including roles in film and television, in Spanish and English. The daughter of actor, writer, and director Mario Peña, the she the Cuban-American actress started her career young, graduating from High School of the Performing Arts in Manhattan. Her first role, in 1979’s Spanish-language El Super, was the first of many rebellious and often feisty characters. Her big break came in 1986’s Down and Out in Beverly Hills, where she starred alongside Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte as live-in maid Carmen. Shortly after, she broke into sitcoms with I Married Dora as the titular character Dora Calderon.
In addition to her role as Maritza Sandoval, the mother of the title character, on El Rey Network’s Matador, Peña had also guest-starred on Modern Family, playing the mother of Gloria’s (Sofia Vergara) mother, Pilar. She also lended her voice to The Incredibles as Mirage. Additional credits include Rush Hour, Jacob’s Ladder, Resurrection Blvd., and more.
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña,” El Rey Network wrote in a statement to EW. “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.”
She is survived by her husband, Hans; her two teenage children, Fiona and Kaelan; her mother, Estela; and her sister, Tania.