Peter Billingsley is honoring his “on-screen mother” Melinda Dillon following her death on Jan. 9 at the age of 83.
In the 1983 holiday classic “A Christmas Story,” Billingsley portrayed Dillon’s son, Ralphie. On Monday, Feb. 8, the 51-year-old actor and filmmaker paid tribute to the late actor in a sweet Instagram post.
He uploaded a black-and-white photo from the set of the Christmas movie that showed Dillon as Mrs. Parker, Ian Petrella as Randy, the late Darren McGavin as Mr. Parker (The Old Man) and Billingsley as Ralphie.
“So very sad to hear of Melinda Dillon’s passing,” he began in the caption. “Working with her on ‘A Christmas Story’ was such a privilege. She was kind, supportive, cool, thoughtful, giving and committed.”
He continued, “Her body of work demonstrated her incredible range and talent.”
At the end of the post, he wrote, “I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to call her my on-screen mother. Rest in peace, Melinda.”
In November, Billingsley reprised his role and reunited with Petrella, Scott Schwartz, Zack Ward and others for “A Christmas Story Christmas.”
Dillon was noticeably absent from the film and she was replaced by Julie Hagerty.
Last week, Dillon’s family confirmed that the two-time Oscar nominee died on Jan. 9 in Los Angeles.
The news of her death was shared in a public obituary.
Although Mrs. Parker is one of Dillon’s most well known roles, she first became a household name when she played Jillian Guiler in Steven Spielberg’s “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in 1977. The part landed her an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.
She received her second best supporting actress nod a few years later for the 1981 thriller “Absence of Malice.”
Throughout the years, she also appeared in multiple popular television series like “The Twilight Zone,” “Judging Amy,” and “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” Her final television role was a three-episode arc on the medical drama “Heartland” in 2007.