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Elizabeth Peña Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (2) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (6) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 23 September 1959Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA
Date of Death 14 October 2014Los Angeles, California, USA  (liver cirrhosis)
Birth NameElizabeth Maria Peña
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Her love for the arts came naturally, as her father was a well-known playwright, actor, director and novelist, so its not hard to understand that by the time she was eight, Cuban-American Elizabeth Pena already had designs to become an actress. Born in New Jersey and raised in New York, her parents, who opened off-Broadway's "Latin American Theatre Ensemble", were more than encouraging. Elizabeth attended NY's "High School of the Performing Arts" and found occasional work in repertory theatre and in television commercials. Her film debut in the independent Spanish-speaking feature, El Super (1979), started her on a long line of feisty, rebellious characters that showed plenty of attitude. During the early 80s, she played everything, from a knife-threatening waitress to a disco queen, as she waited for her big break. That big break came in the form of the hugely successful comedy film, Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986), co-starring Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte, in which she stole many scenes as the sultry, politically-minded maid, "Carmen", who lusts for Nolte. This propelled her to move to Los Angeles, where she continued to spice up both the big and small screen, including the part of Ritchie Valens' stepsister-in-law, in the well-received biopic, La Bamba (1987). Honors also came by Elizabeth's way, when she received the "Independent Spirit" and "Bravo" awards for the film, Lone Star (1996), and the "ALMA Award" for Tortilla Soup (2001). On TV, she hasn't found the one series role to thrust her front and center. Co-starring roles in Tough Cookies (1986), I Married Dora (1987) and Shannon's Deal (1990) were short-lived. She is married and has two children.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh / gr-home@pacbell.net

Spouse (2)

Hans Christian Rolla (1994 - 14 October 2014) (her death) (2 children)
William Kibler (1988 - ?) (divorced)

Trade Mark (1)

Seductive husky voice

Trivia (6)

Attended and graduated from Manhattan's High School for the Performing Arts in 1977.
Despite playing her mother on Modern Family (2009), Peña was just 13 years older than Sofía Vergara.
She was a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.
Daughter of Estella Margarita and Mario Peña.
Classmates with Ving Rhames and Esai Morales.
Had two children with Hans Rolla: Fiona and Kaelan Rolla.

Personal Quotes (2)

(on her refusal to portray Latin stereotypes) There are a lot of jobs I've turned down because they wanted me to play what I call "Miss Cuchifrito" types.
I worked very hard to get Jacob's Ladder (1990). At first, they wanted Susan Sarandon, Andie MacDowell or Michelle Pfeiffer. At some point, they wanted Susan Sarandon, and Madonna wanted the part. They auditioned all of them. I begged to be auditioned. I begged and begged and when I auditioned, the chemistry was right and Adrian [Lyne] and I were just taken with each other. I auditioned for six months, twice a week. The reason I kept going back was because Adrian was literally fighting for me to get the role.

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