Elizabeth Peña, Actress With Roles on Modern Family and Matador, Dead at 55

Elizabeth Pena Dead Dies

Elizabeth Peña, whose TV career included roles on Modern Family and Matador, died Tuesday at Cedars-Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. She was 55.

Peña’s nephew, Mario-Francisco Robles, confirmed her death in an obituary he penned for Latino-Review.

UPDATE: According to TMZ, Peña died from complications of alcohol abuse.

Her most recent role was that of Maritza, mother of the title character on El Rey’s Matador. She also played Gloria’s mother, Pilar, in two episodes of Modern Family.

Peña’s career spanned nearly four decades and included stints on series like Major Crimes, Off the MapResurrection Blvd., and NCIS. She also led her own short-lived comedy, I Married Dora, in the late 1980s.

She also appeared in films, including Rush Hour and La Bamba, and did voice work, including The Incredibles.

UPDATE:  El Rey issued the following statement regarding Peña’s death: “We are deeply saddened by the passing of our friend and colleague, Elizabeth Peña. 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.”


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  1. Ron says:

    I just saw this on Latino-Review. That is so sad. I loved her as Gloria’s mom on MF. But I always remember her for her brilliant performance in Lone Star, as well as other great roles. In my opinion, Pena made a good movie (Lone Star) a great movie; she was easily my favorite part of that movie. RIP Miss Pena!

    • schmed says:

      I agree. Lone Star is her great performance, and yet neither the TVLine nor the EW.com obits mention it.

      • Tim says:

        She was also in Jacob’s Ladder and Blue Steel

        • Brigid says:

          Blue Steel was an awesome movie and Elizabeth was really good in it. Very sad that someone so young and talented has passed.

      • JVee says:

        I agree, also. Loved her in Lone Star. Pretty much loved her in everything she she was in. She was a great actress. I gasped when I read this (true), and am very sad that she died so young. She will be missed.

  2. B says:

    I’m very sorry to hear this. She was a wonderful actress. I always enjoyed seeing her.

  3. James says:


  4. Babygate says:

    I can’t believe this. . Que en paz descanse. She was too young…

  5. BrightLight says:

    Elizabeth Pena was one of those actresses that when her name appeared in the credits, I kept watching because I knew that even if the show/movie might be bad, her performance would be fantastic. I was never disappointed.

  6. My heart is silent not only will depart this sad but by the pain you are experiencing in your family, my dear Margarita, my beloved Tania and for the rest of that beautiful Family. I had the good fortune to know her to grow with then and be directed by her for it in one of my early acting play a works written and producer by her father my first acting teacher Mario Peña . REST IN PEACES MY ADORABLE ELIZABETH YOU ALWAYS WILL BE IN MY HEART

  7. Cassandra says:

    Loved her in one of my favorite 80s flicks, Batteries Not Included. RIP Elizabeth Pena.

  8. taniaha says:

    No word on cause? Shame, I always enjoyed her work.

  9. Connie says:

    So sad!! But she will always be Rosie to me!!! RIP Elizabeth Pena

  10. MelindaB says:

    I first took note of her in “I Married Dora”, a show that lasted 13 episodes. I was always happy to see her in a show or movie. How sad for her family and friends.

  11. KND says:

    Incredibly sad, she was very talented.

  12. ComeOn says:

    Condolences to her family. Was just thinking she would be better for the new Captain to Fusco and ‘Reily’ in Person of Interest. The one they have is a bit too young to be a Captain.

  13. Robert says:

    Beautiful and talented, May she be at peace.

  14. ninamags says:

    Omg! This is horrible!

    I have always enjoyed her work.

    She was one of the (very, very) few Latinas that had been seen somewhat regularly on my tv.


  15. Megsmom says:

    I’m so sad…I loved her on Modern Family, but my favorite role of hers was Letizia in Tortilla Soup. She was an amazing actress. Such a terrible loss – my heart goes out to her loved ones.

    • JVee says:

      Oh, gosh, thanks for reminding of Tortilla Soup. It was a wonderful movie with another warm and vibrant performance by Ms. Pena.

  16. arial2 says:

    Oh no! I really liked her. She played so many great roles. How sad.

  17. Dora Pena says:

    Oh my I loved all her movies. I will dearly miss her. May she rest in peace.

  18. znachki says:

    I loved her work. I really think that Lone Star is her best work. RIP Condolences to her family and friends.

  19. Mika02 says:

    Tortilla soup is like one of my favorite movies. Rip to another talented actor.

  20. fiola says:

    I don’t understand 55 is young!! How do you die from natural causes? Im sorry am not trying to be disrespectful,im just shocked and my condolences go out to the family.May she rest in peace.My mother died tragically at 50 and I still can’t get over it,so young.so sad.

  21. Jenna says:

    So sad to hear this. Loved her work. RIP, Ms. Pena.

  22. hijoy says:

    She was awesome in Free Willy 2

  23. herman1959 says:

    Wow, I grew up watching her…so sad.

  24. Kevin in CT says:

    Such a loss, she was great in everything I ever saw her perform in. I remember her NCIS part vividly, RIP ma’am

  25. Jennie Bolt says:

    I loved watching her in all she played in. My heart goes to the family..💔💔💔

  26. Linda says:

    So sorry to hear of her passing. She was a beautiful and wonderful actress. Condolences to her family and friends.

  27. topoopon says:

    Google the phrase “I Married Dora surprise ending”. I remember first seeing her in “I Married Dora”. (yes I watched it).