Actress Elizabeth Pena dies at 55
(Image credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Actress Elizabeth Pena, who appeared in a wide range of films and television shows including La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Modern Family, and The Incredibles, has died following a brief illness. She was 55.

Pena was born Sept. 23, 1959, in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Her parents were both in entertainment: Her father, Mario, was an actor, writer, and director, while her mother, Estella Margarita, was a producer. Recently, Pena regularly appeared on the crime drama Matador and portrayed the mother of Sofia Vergara's character on Modern Family. In addition to acting, Pena directed several television episodes, and was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.

Her La Bamba co-star, Lou Diamond Phillips, tweeted that he was "stunned and heartbroken" over the death of his friend. "She was such a Life Force it's hard to believe," he wrote. "Elizabeth was not only an amazing actress, she was one of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever know. My prayers to her family."

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Pena is survived by her husband, Hans Rolla, daughter Fiona, son Kaelan, and her mother and sister.

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