When Elizabeth Peña died last week, the cause of death was unknown. Hollywood was stunned by the death of someone who was only 55 and had not been known publicly to be suffering from cancer or some other killer.
But now Peña’s death has been determined to be due to the effects of alcoholism. Specifically, “cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol” is listed, as well as cardiopulmonary arrest, cardiogenic shock, and acute gastrointestinal bleeding.
The death certificate outlines a cascade of causes. It lists that Peña had cirrhosis for months, suffered from acute gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiogenic shock hours before her death, which caused her heart to stop — the cardiopulmonary arrest that killed her.
TMZ first reported the information contained on Peña’s death certificate.
Peña was Cuban-American. She was born in New Jersey, but raised in Cuba until she was eight years old. She then moved to New York City with her family and went to New York’s High School of Performing Arts where she studied alongside actors Ving Rhames (of Pulp Fiction and Mission: Impossible) and Esai Morales, whom she would later act with in La Bamba.
Peña had recently come into the limelight again playing Pilar, the mother of Modern Family core character Gloria Pritchett.
The El Rey Network, where Peña appeared in the drama Matador, issued a statement following her death.
“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.”