Elizabeth Peña has died at the young age of 55.
Peña was recently known for playing Pilar, the mother of Modern Family core cast member Gloria Pritchett, played by Sofia Vergara. But before that she was Rosie in the film La Bamba, starring Lou Diamond Phillips as rocker Ritchie Valens.
Peña also was the voice of the character Mirage in Pixar’s film The Incredibles. She has roles in Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob’s Ladder, Lone Star, *batteries not included, Vibes and Rush Hour.
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.
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.”
Peña’s manager, Gina Rugolo, confirmed that she had died “of natural causes” following a brief illness. She had been hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
The entire cast and crew are very sad to say goodbye to one of our Modern Family members. RIP to the beautiful & talented #ElizabethPena.
— Jesse Tyler Ferguson (@jessetyler) October 16, 2014