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February 6, 2023

We’re sad to have to report that actress Melinda Dillon died last month at 83.

Dillon earned a Golden Globe nomination for her debut in “Bound for Glory” (1976), and Oscar noms for best supporting actress in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” and “Absence of Malice.” She also appeared in many other films from “Harry and the Hendersons” to “Magnolia,” was a Tony-nominated stage actress, and played parts in TV shows from “Bonanza” to “Law & Order: SVU.”

But there’s no question that the role moviegoers will always remember her best for is as Ralphie’s mother in “A Christmas Story.” While that classic movie is told from a kid’s viewpoint, the mother has some of the most memorable moments, from tasting the soap she puts in her kid’s mouth to encouraging her younger son to eat by letting him play piggy, to keeping Ralphie’s fight with a bully their little secret from his dad to the immortal line, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” She reminded many of us of our own mothers and created one of the greatest, most loveable, loving and long-suffering maternal characters in film history.

By the way, I was surprised to learn that like Gov. Huckabee, she was born in Hope, Arkansas, but she grew up in Alabama. I did ask him if he knew her, but he did not. He remembers some Dillons who lived there, but we don’t know if they’re related. Still, I think we can assume that she, and they, were all good people.

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