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|Born||Melinda Rose Dillon
) October 13, 1939
Hope, Arkansas, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Richard Libertini (1963–1978; divorced; 1 child)|
Early life and career
Though best known for her supporting performances in films, Dillon got her start as an improvisational comedian and stage actress. Her first major role was as Honey in the original 1962 Broadway production of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play, and she also appeared in You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running and Paul Sill's Story Theatre.
Dillon's first film was The April Fools in 1969. Playing "Memphis Sue" opposite David Carradine, she was nominated for the Best Female Acting Debut Golden Globe for the 1976 Woody Guthrie biopic Bound for Glory. She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for the role of a mother whose young child is abducted by aliens in Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1977, and had an uncredited short role in The Muppet Movie. The same year she appeared semi-nude with Paul Newman in the comedy classic, Slap Shot. Four years later she was once again nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance as a suicidal teacher in 1981's Absence of Malice, opposite Paul Newman. She had a guest role in 1969 on an episode of Bonanza titled "A Lawman's Lot Is Not a Happy One" (Season 11).
As a comedienne, Dillon is perhaps best known for her role as the compassionate mother of Ralphie and Randy in Bob Clark's 1983 film A Christmas Story. The film was based on a series of short stories and novels written by Jean Shepherd, and follows young Ralphie Parker (played by Peter Billingsley) on his quest for a BB gun from Santa Claus.
Five years later she appeared opposite John Lithgow in the Bigfoot comedy Harry and the Hendersons. She continued to be active in stage and film throughout the 1990s, taking minor roles in the Barbra Streisand drama The Prince of Tides, the low-budget Lou Diamond Phillips thriller Sioux City, and the drama How to Make an American Quilt. 
In 2005, she guest starred in an episode of Law & Order: SVU entitled "Blood".
Melinda Dillon has remained a private person, and information about her personal life is largely unknown. She was married to character actor Richard Libertini (30 September 1963 - 18 January 1978), with whom she had one child.