Who is Melinda Dillon?
When Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction drama “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” was premiered in 1977, besides the lead roles portrayed by Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr and Francois Truffaut, another character caught the eye of both the audience and critics. It was the role of Jillian Guiler, a mother whose child was abducted by aliens, and if you ever wanted to know more about the actress who portrayed this character, let us tell you the naked truth about Melinda Dillon.
Her performance in this movie brought Melinda an Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1978, and besides the mentioned role, she is perhaps still known best for her portrayal of Teresa in “Absence of Malice”, which brought her another Oscar nomination for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in 1982.
Melinda is an actress with over 60 credits to her name, and during her career she’s appeared in numerous hit movies, including “A Christmas Story”, “Harry and the Hendersons”, and “Magnolia”, among others.
Early life and education
Her birth name is Melinda Ruth Clardy, and she was born under the zodiac sign of Libra on 13 October 1939, in Hope, Arkansas USA; she was raised in Cullman, Alabama, the only child of her parents Essie Norine, who was a housewife, and Floyd Clardy, who was an oil company representative.
After her parents divorced in 1947, her mother remarried to US Army officer, Wilbur S. Dillon, by whom Melinda was adopted, and she moved with them to Germany, where they spend four years then returned to the US.
Melinda attended Hyde Park High School in Chicago, Illinois, then upon matriculating in 1957, she enrolled at the Goodman School of Drama, and then attended the Art Institute of Chicago ( now DePaul University) from which she graduated with a BA degree in 1960.
After graduating, Melinda began her career on the stage actress, and as an improvisational comedienne. Her most notable role was in the original 1962 Broadway production of “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Franklin Albee – her portrayal of Honey brought her a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.
Roles in movies
Melinda had made her acting debut portraying Faye in the short documentary movie “The Cry of Jazz” in 1959, and then 10 years later, she was seen in “Un Hombre Solo”, before she was cast to play Leslie Hopkins in “The April Fools”, also starring Jack Lemmon and Catherine Deneuve, followed by her role in the 1976 movie “Bound for Glory”, which brought her a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Acting Debut in a Motion Picture – Female.
In the following year, she was seen in “Slap Shot” and “Enigma”, before she portrayed Jillian Guiler in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”, which besides the Oscar nomination brought her a nomination for the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA Saturn Award for Best Actress. To finish the decade, Melinda was seen starring in “F. I. S. T”, “The Critical List”, and “Transplant” in 1979.
In 1980, she was cast to play Agnes in the TV movies “Marriage is Alive and Well” and “The Shadow Box”, and in the following year, she was seen in “Fallen Angel” and “Hellinger’s Law”, before she portrayed Teresa in “Absence of Malice”, also starring Paul Newman, Bob Balaban, and Sally Field, which as mentioned brought her the Oscar nomination, and she was also nominated for Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA) Award for Best Supporting Actress, while she won Kansas City Film Critics Circle (KCFCC) Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Melinda next starred in the 1983 movie “A Christmas Story”, alongside Peter Billingsley and Darren McGavin, followed by her roles in “Songwriter” (1984) and “Shattered Spirits” (1986), before she was cast to play Nancy Henderson in the Oscar-awarded (Best Make-up) fantasy family comedy “Harry and the Hendersons”, which brought her another nomination – Saturn Award for Best Actress, in 1988.
In the early ’90s, Melinda was seen starring in movies such as “Captain America”, “Sioux City”, and “The Effects of Magic”, among others, before she was cast to play Rose Gator in “Magnolia” in 1999, a drama that had three Oscar nominations, for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Paul Thomas Anderson), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Tom Cruise), and Best Music, Original Song.
Melinda portrayed Rose Braxton in the 2001 movie “Cowboy Up”, followed by her role in the TV movie “A Painted House” in 2003, and then in the following year, she was Mrs Lee in “Debating Robert Lee”, followed by her portrayal of Dottie in the 2005 movie “Adam & Steve”.
Two years later, she played Ginger Timpleman in “Reign Over Me”, while her most recent role was in the 2013 movie “Lady Gaga & the Muppet’s Holiday Spectacular”, although, her role was uncredited.
Roles in series
Melinda made her first television appearance as Jeannie Birch in an episode of the series “The Defenders” in 1963, followed by her role as Stacey Barbella in “East Side/West Side” in 1964, and she then guest-starred in popular “Bonanza” in 1969.
Melinda mostly guest-starred in an episode or two of numerous series, so we will mention some of her most notable appearances on television, such as her role in “The Jeffersons” (1975), her recurring role as Susie in “Insight” (1981-1984), “The Twilight Zone” (1985), “The Client” (1995), “Judging Amy” (2001), and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, which in 2006 brought her a nomination for the Prism Award for Performance in a Drama Series Episode,.
Her most recent television role was her 2007 portrayal of Janet Jacobs in the series “Heartland”.
Love life and relationships
There were various rumors concerning Melinda’s love life, as she was romantically linked to various men in the movie industry, however, she’s been quite secretive when it comes to her personal matters, thus she hasn’t spoken about her relationships.
It’s only known that she was married once – her ex-husband was the late actor Richard Joseph Libertini, from 1963 until 1978 when they divorced. They have one son together, Richard Libertini Junior, about whom nothing is known.
After she divorced Richard, Melinda kept her love life away from the media’s attention, and she hasn’t been seen publicly with another man.
Most people assume that Melinda is related to famous American actor Matt Dillon, which isn’t true.
In the movie “Bound for Glory”, she played two characters.
Although she won the Tony Award for her performance of Honey in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf”, she wasn’t cast in the film, the role was instead given to Sandy Dennis, who won the Oscar for her performance.
Melinda’s high school friend was former President of the US, Bill Clinton.
Where is she now?
Melinda is a private person, and after her last role in 2013, it seems that she retired from acting and withdrew from public life.
Speaking of her personal life, she seems to be single, and since she has no social media accounts, and refuses to give any interviews, it was hard to find out what she’s doing now.
Some rumors were saying that she devoted her life to the Methodist movement, however, although it is known that she is a Methodist, this assumption isn’t confirmed.
Age, vital statistics, and net worth
Melinda’s age is 82; her current vital statistics are unknown, however, while she was in the limelight, she was known for her blonde hair and piercing blue eyes, weighed around 130lbs (60kgs) and her height was 5ft 7ins (1.72m), with vital statistics of 33-24-34.
According to sources, as of May 2022, her net worth has been estimated at over $3 million.