Obituaries

Elizabeth Pena Of 'Modern Family' And 'Rush Hour' Dead At 55

Elizabeth Pena has passed away at the age of 55 after a brief illness. Her roughly 40-year career spanned multiple movies and TV shows you know well.

Elizabeth Pena Of 'Modern Family' And 'Rush Hour' Dead At 55
Getty Images / Kevin Winter
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Actress Elizabeth Pena has passed away at the age of 55 after a brief illness. Her roughly 40-year career spanned multiple movies and TV shows you know well. 

She starred in "Rush Hour" with Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker...

"Did Kojak have a partner?"

"Yeah, the fat guy."

...played Tim Robbins' character's wife in the 1990 movie "Jacob's Ladder."

Other credits included hits like "Down and Out In Beverly Hills" alongside Richard Dreyfuss, Bette Midler and Nick Nolte, and "La Bamba." Her "La Bamba" co-star Lou Diamond Phillips Tweeted after hearing the news of her death...

...that he was "stunned and heartbroken ... Elizabeth was not only an amazing actress, she was one of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever known."

Paying tribute too was actress America Ferrera, who also Tweeted she was "heartbroken," calling Pena "such a light."

More recently, Pena played Sofia Vergara's mother on "Modern Family" in 2013.

She'd also just wrapped work on the show "Matador" on the El Rey network. 

Pena began acting at a young age, attending a performing arts high school in New York. The BBC shares a story about her zealousness to get on screen. (Video via YouTube / Girl on the Edge)

"She won [her role in 'Down and Out'], she said, by bribing a security guard at Disney Studios to let her in to see the casting director after an agent had told her she was not attractive enough for the role."

According to her nephew, Latino-Review writer Mario-Francisco Robles, Pena died October 14th at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a short illness. She is survived by her husband and two children.