Elizabeth Pena died on Oct. 14 in Los Angeles at the age of 55 and according to the latest reports, her death was caused by alcohol abuse. Pena reportedly suffered from liver disease for several months before she passed away last week.
According to the Los Angeles County Coroner death certificate, Elizabeth passed away from cirrhosis of the liver due to alcohol abuse. TMZ stated that Pena experienced acute gastrointestinal bleeding hours before her death and that eventually caused her heart to stop.
Pena was a daughter of Cuban immigrants and she had a prolific 35-year acting career, which began in the late 1970s. In 1987, Elizabeth landed her breakthrough role in La Bamba and the actress kept a high-profile over the years, both in television and film, with roles in films such as Jacob’s Ladder, Rush Hour, Lone Star, Blue Steel, Free Willy 2 and Tortilla Soup. Pena recently filmed a guest appearance on Modern Family as Sofia Vergara’s mother and she also starred in the first season of Matador on the El Rey Network.
Furthermore, Elizabeth appeared on TV shows Resurrection Blvd., L.A. Law and Dream On. The talented actress also directed an episode of the Showtime series Resurrection Blvd. in 2002 , which was set in East Los Angeles and she also provided her voice to the Justice League cartoon series, The Incredibles and American Dad. Pena was also a founding member of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors.
After news of the actress’ death broke out last week, El Rey Network released a message, saying that they are deeply saddened by the passing of their colleague and friend, Elizabeth Pena, who was a truly extraordinary performer, a role model and an inspiration in every sense of the word. The network wrote that their thoughts are with Elizabeth’s family and friends during this difficult time and that the actress will be deeply missed.
Elizabeth’s passing was also mourned by many of her co-stars and fans, including the La Bamba star Lou Diamond Phillips, who wrote on his Twitter page that he is heartbroken and stunned , as he just found out that his dear friend Elizabeth Pena passed away. Phillips found it very hard to belive that she is really gone, because for him, Elizabeth was such a Life Force.
On the other hand, after her cause of death was revealed, some fans on Twitter immediately started judging Elizabeth. Despite the fact that alcoholism is considered as a disease, just like anything else, several people are stating that Pena could prevent her own death if she stopped drinking. However, after her 35-year long career, Elizabeth left quite a legacy and her great talent was lost before her time.
During her long film and television career, Elizabeth Pena also won four ALMA Awards, which are given to American Latino artists for promoting accurate and fair portrayals of Latinos in the media. The actress is survived by her husband Hans Rolla, their two children – daughter Fiona and son Kaelan, along with her sister Tania and mother Estela.
By: Janette Verdnik