Elizabeth Peña

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Elizabeth Peña
Actress, Elizabeth Pena at the 2009 East Classic Theater Fundraiser.jpg
Peña in 2009
Elizabeth Maria Peña

(1959-09-23)September 23, 1959
DiedOctober 14, 2014(2014-10-14) (aged 55)
OccupationActress, writer, musician
Years active1976–2014
Spouse(s)William Kibler
(m. 1988; divorced)
Hans Rolla
(m. 1994)

Elizabeth Maria Peña (September 23, 1959 – October 14, 2014) was an American actress, writer and musician. Her work in films included Nothing like the Holidays, Batteries Not Included, La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob's Ladder, Rush Hour, The Incredibles, and Lone Star, for which she won the 1996 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Female and a Bravo Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film. She was also a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. Peña also voiced Rosa Santos in Maya and Miguel.

Early life[edit]

Peña was born on September 23, 1959[1] in Elizabeth, New Jersey, where she was raised, the daughter of Mario Peña, an actor, director, and writer who co-founded the Latin American Theatre Ensemble, and Estella Margarita (Toirac) Peña, an arts administrator and producer.[1][2] She was of Cuban descent, and spent her early years in Cuba.[3] At age 8, Peña and her family moved to New York City. In 1975, she was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors. In 1977, she graduated from New York's High School of Performing Arts. Her classmates were Ving Rhames and Esai Morales, whom she would later star with in Jacob's Ladder, La Bamba, and Resurrection Blvd.


In 1979, Peña made her film debut, El Super, a "moving and melancholy comedy about a family of lower middle class Cuban refugees attempting to adjust to life in Spanish Harlem".[4] She worked once again with director Leon Ichaso in his next feature, Crossover Dreams. She appeared in films such as Nothing like the Holidays, La Bamba, Down and Out in Beverly Hills, Jacob's Ladder, Lone Star, *batteries not included, Blue Steel, 1997's "Gridlock'd" as ER Admissions Person (under the name Elizabeth Anne Dickinson), Vibes, and Rush Hour. In 2002, she starred in Showtime's Resurrection Blvd. as Tia Bibi Corrades in the episode "Justicia", which she also directed. In 2003, she appeared in and directed "It Was Fun While It Lasted", an episode of The Brothers Garcia. Peña also voiced Mirage in Pixar's animated film The Incredibles. She guest starred in the 18th episode of season 2 of Numb3rs as Sonya Benavides, and in season 4 of Modern Family as Pilar, the Colombian mother of Gloria Pritchett. Although she spoke Spanish, she did not dub her own voice for Spanish releases. Peña was also noted for having starred in I Married Dora, a sitcom in 1987, as Dora Calderon, the title character. She also starred in John Sayles' produced critically acclaimed but short-lived television series Shannon's Deal (1989–1991). In 1996, Sayles wrote and directed the mystery film Lone Star and again cast her in a co-starring role, for which she won the 1996 Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Bravo Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film from the National Council of La Raza.

Personal life and death[edit]

Peña married William Stephan Kibler in 1988. Their marriage later ended in divorce. In 1994, Peña married Hans Rolla, with whom she had two children, Joey and Kaelan.[5]

Peña died on October 14, 2014 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California at the age of 55.[5][6][7] The cause of death listed on her death certificate was cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol, which caused acute gastrointestinal bleeding, cardiogenic shock and cardiac arrest.[8][9]


Film and Television
1979 El Super Aurelita
1980 Times Square Disco Hostess
1981 They All Laughed Rita
1985 Crossover Dreams Liz Garcia
1985 Cagney & Lacey Adelita Carrena Episode: "Ordinary Hero"
1985 T.J. Hooker Maria Episode: "Rip-off"
1986 Down and Out in Beverly Hills Carmen
1986 Hill Street Blues Alice Episode: "Come and Get It"
1986 Tough Cookies Connie Rivera 6 episodes
1987 La Bamba Rosie Morales
1987 *batteries not included Marisa Esteval
1987–1988 I Married Dora Dora Calderon 13 episodes
1988 Vibes Consuelo
1989 Shannon's Deal Lucy Acosta Television film
1989 Blue Steel Tracy Perez
1990 Drug Wars: The Camarena Story Mika Camarena Miniseries
1990 Jacob's Ladder Jezzie
1990–1991 Shannon's Deal Lucy Acosta 11 episodes
1992 The Waterdance Rosa
1992 Fugitive Among Us Flo Martin Television film
1993 Dream On Debra Episode: "Super Freak"
1993–1994 L.A. Law Jinx Baldasseri 4 episodes
1994 Dead Funny Viv Saunders
1994 Roommates Lisa Television film
1995 Across the Moon Carmen
1995 The Outer Limits Dr. Jennifer Martinez Episode: "Living Hell"
1995 Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home Kate Haley
1995 The Invaders Ellen Garza Miniseries
1996 It Came from Outer Space II Ellen Fields Television film
1996 Lone Star Pilar
1996 Recon Officer Santiago
1996 Two Elizabeth Gaitan Unaired pilot
1997 Contagious Det. Luisa Rojas Television film
1997 Gridlock'd Admissions Person
1997 The Second Civil War Christina Television film
1997 Dead Man's Gun Gisella Episode: "Fortune Teller"
1998 The Pass Zeena
1998 Rush Hour Detective Tania Johnson
1998 The Eddie Files Aunt Ida Episode: "Charts & Graphs: The Dessert Derby"
1998 Strangeland Toni Gage
1998 Aldrich Ames: Traitor Within Rosario Ames Television film
1999 Border Line Maria Rodriguez Television film
1999 Seven Girlfriends Martha
2000 Ryan's Comedia Mrs. Neuroplanet Voice
2001 Things Behind the Sun Carmen
2001 Tortilla Soup Leticia Naranjo
2001 Resurrection Blvd. Beatriz "Bibi" Corrales Episode: "Arriba Y Abajo"
2001 On the Borderline Connie
2002 Impostor Midwife
2002 ZigZag Ms. Tate
2002 Ten Tiny Love Stories Nine
2002 Resurrection Blvd. Director
Episode: "Justicia"
2002–2003 Boston Public Superintendent Elizabeth Vasquez 2 episodes
2003 CSI: Miami Mercedes Escalante Episode: "Simple Man"
2003 The Brothers Garcia Director
Episode: "It Was Fun While It Lasted"
2004 The Hollywood Mom's Mystery Theresa Shoe Television film
2004 Suburban Madness Clara Harris Television film
2004 Maya & Miguel Rosa Santos Voice
2004 The Incredibles Mirage Voice
2004 NCIS FBI Agent Lina Reyes Episode: "Terminal Leave"
2004–2005 Justice League Paran Dul Voice
4 episodes
2005 How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer Lolita
2005 Without a Trace Rosie Diaz Episode: "Neither Rain Nor Sleet"
2005 Transamerica Margaret
2005 Down in the Valley Gale
2005 Sueño Mirabela
2005 Keep Your Distance Holly
2005 The Lost City Miliciana Muñoz
2005 Numb3rs Sonya Benavides Episode: "Assassin"
2006 Minoriteam Maria / Gold Digger Voice
Episode: "Landon in Love"
2007 Adrift in Manhattan Isabel Parades
2007 American Dad! Store Owner Voice
Episode: "American Dream Factory"
2007 Goal II: Living the Dream Rosa Maria
2007 D-War Agent Linda Perez
2007 Love Comes Lately Esperanza
2008 Racing for Time Flores Television film
2008 A Single Woman Storyteller
2008 Nothing like the Holidays Anna Rodriguez
2009 Ghost Whisperer Marla Episode: "This Joint's Haunted"
2009 Mother and Child Amanda
2009 Becoming Eduardo Leticia
2009 Down for Life Mrs. Castro
2011 Off the Map Inez Episode: "I'm Home"
2011 The Perfect Family Christina Reyes
2013 Major Crimes Rosa Vega Episode: "Under the Influence"
2013 Modern Family Pilar 2 episodes
2013 Blaze You Out Dona
2013 Plush Dr. Lopez
2014 Matador Maritza Sandoval[10] 7 episodes
2015 Grandma Carla
2015 Girl on the Edge Esther
2015 Ana Maria in Novela Land Sra Soto
2017 The Song of Sway Lake Marlena (final film role; posthumous release)
Video games
2004 The Incredibles Mirage Voice
2013 Disney Infinity

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Elizabeth Pena Biography (1959–)
  2. ^ Weinstein, Shelli (October 15, 2014). "Elizabeth Pena, co-star of 'Jacob's Ladder' and 'La Bamba,' dies at 55". Toronto Sun. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  3. ^ Elizabeth Pena Dead: ‘Rush Hour’ Actress’ Death Shocks Fans
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 29, 1985). "'Crossover Dreams', with salsa beat". The New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Woo, Elaine (October 16, 2014). "Elizabeth Peña dies at 55; actress in 'The Incredibles,' 'La Bamba'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  6. ^ Robles, Mario-Francisco (October 15, 2014). "Breaking: Prolific Hispanic Actress Elizabeth Peña Has Passed Away". LatinoReview.com. Retrieved October 16, 2014.
  7. ^ Couch, Aaron; Barnes, Mike. "Actress Elizabeth Pena Dies at 55". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  8. ^ Maria Puente (October 23, 2014). "Alcoholism was a cause in Elizabeth Pena's death". USA TODAY. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  9. ^ "Certificate of Death" (PDF). California. 2014. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 17, 2015.
  10. ^ Bibel, Sara (April 3, 2014). "Tanc Sade, Elizabeth Pena & More Join Cast of El Rey's 'Matador'". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved April 3, 2014.

External links[edit]