Milestone | RIP Actress Elizabeth Peña

Elizabeth Pena in 2009

Elizabeth Pena in 2009

Actress Elizabeth Peña (September 23, 1959 – October 14, 2014) died after a brief illness at the age of 55.  Born in  Elizabeth, New Jersey, Peña spent her early years in Cuba. Her father, Mario Peña, was a Cuban actor, writer, and director who co-founded the Latin American Theatre Ensemble; her mother, Estella Margarita (Toirac) Peña, was an arts administrator and producer. The family moved to New York City when Elizabeth was eight.

She graduated from New York’s High School of Performing Arts in 1977, her classmates including Ving Rhames and Esai Morales, whom she would later star with in La Bamba and Resurrection Blvd. She was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.

This message was posted by her friend and colleague actor, Esai Morales.

I guess I finally found out why I felt so inexplicably heavy-hearted yesterday. I thought it was an unusually gloomy day in LA. I could feel a deep sadness in my bones. And then…

It happens, you hear… and you never got to say goodbye.

I just hope and pray her husband and two teenaged kids will be ok and somehow carry on w her love and laughter forever in their hearts. Pls keep them in your prayers and well wishes. Thx for your kind love and condolences as I’ll be fine but they are surely devastated.

I just can’t believe she’s gone… I remember crushing on Liz back in our High School days and being inspired by her work and success in this ever so fickle and peculiar business. So you can imagine how happy and privileged I felt to be able to work on screen together (and steal her away from Ritchie…!!)

Trying to write something deserving of her memory and her larger than life personality isn’t easy through bouts of laughter and tears; but what can I say…? She was our first – and only, Elizabeth Peña… an artist with a truly gifted soul and a wicked sense of humor. A straight shooter who was uniquely fun, funny and always a pleasure to work with and just be around. A great gal who is gone too soon.

Look how much they love ya, Liz!! 

We will miss you dearly, sweetheart. RIP

The above is reposted with permission of Mr. Morales.

Author: Richard Sandoval

Richard Sandoval is an award winning journalist who produces Hispanic Lifestyle a television program broadcasting on several PBS stations throughout the United States. editorial@Hispaniclifestyle.com

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