Groundbreaking Latina actress Elizabeth Peña dies at the age of 55

Elizabeth Pena - Nothing Like the Holidays

Actress Elizabeth Peña has died at the age of 55 following a brief battle with an undisclosed illness.

Elizabeth’s career spanned decades. In the late 1980s, she broke ground by being the first Latina actresses to star in a primetime sitcom when she played the titular character in ABC’s I Married Dora. She went on to roles in La Bamba, Rush Hour and Lone Star. More recently, she was in two episodes of Modern Family as the mother of Sofia Vergara’s character and appeared in the El Rey Network’s Matador.

Elizabeth Peña - Modern Family

“We were so sad to learn of the passing of Elizabeth Pena. A member of our Family, she will be missed,” Modern Family co-creator Steve Levitan said on Wednesday night. Sofia retweeted the message with the addition of a praying hands emoji and another “RIP.”

Jesse Tyler Ferguson also paid tribute on Twitter, writing, “The entire cast and crew are very sad to say goodbye to one of our Modern Family members. RIP to the beautiful & talented #ElizabethPena.”

Fellow Latina actress Eva Longoria also memorialized Elizabeth on Twitter by saying she “paved the way for so many of us!!”

Elizabeth is survived by her husband, two teenage children, her mother and a sister.

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