‘Modern Family’ actress Elizabeth Peña dies at 55

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Actress Eizabeth Pena arrives at the 20th IFP Independent Spirit Awards in a tent on the beach on February 26, 2005 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Actress Elizabeth Peña has died of natural causes after a brief illness, her manager told CNN. She was 55.

Peña passed away Tuesday, Gina Rugolo said in a statement.

Among her many roles, Peña is known for appearing as the mother of a character played by Sofia Vergara in the ABC sitcom “Modern Family.”

She’s played on both the big and small screens during her more than three-decade career. She also tried her hand at directing, becoming only the fourth Latina member of the Director’s Guild of America when she joined, the statement said.

Elizabeth Peña became only the fourth Latina member of the Director’s Guild of America when she joined.

Other career highlights include roles in the movies “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “La Bamba,” “Rush Hour,” and “The Incredibles.”

Most recently, Peña appeared in the TV drama “Matador.”

“I am stunned and heartbroken, just found out about the passing of my friend Elizabeth Peña. She was such a life force, it’s hard to believe,” tweeted actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who starred in “La Bamba.”

“Elizabeth was not only an amazing actress, she was one of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever known. My prayers to her family,” he said.

Peña was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and she graduated from New York’s High School of Performing Arts in 1977.

She is survived by her mother, a sister, her husband, and two children.

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