Modern Family Star, Elizabeth Pena, Dies After Brief Illness

Actress Elizabeth Pena has died after a brief illness
Elizabeth Pena has died after a brief illness
Television stars and other celebrities mourned actress Elizabeth Pena, whose career was punctuated by roles in the films "La Bamba" and "Jacob's Ladder," and who died earlier this week at age 55.

Pena, who more recently appeared on the hit TV show "Modern Family," died on Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital of natural causes after a short illness, her manager Gina Rugolo said.

"Rest in Peace Elizabeth Pena," wrote "Desperate Housewives" star Eva Longoria on Twitter late on Wednesday. "You paved the way for so many of us!!"

Zoe Saldana, the actress and dancer, offered prayers to Pena's family.

"My heart is broken!!!" she wrote on Twitter.

Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Pena began her acting career in the late 1970s, going on to appear in films including "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "*batteries not included" and "Rush Hour."

She also acted on television, including her role on "Modern Family." She most recently appeared in several episodes of "Matador," a TV drama.

Pena is survived by her husband and two children, along with her mother and sister, Rugolo said.