TMZ has obtained Elizabeth Peña's death certificate and have revealed the cause of the actress's sudden and untimely death. Peña had been suffering from cirrhosis brought on by alcohol abuse.
According to TMZ, Peña had been living with the disease for several months and died of acute gastrointestinal bleeding which led to her heart stopping. She was 55.
While Peña may be most remembered for her role in La Bamba, the actress boasted a career that spanned close to four decades. Most recently, she was seen as Gloria's mother on Modern Family. Some may also remember her excellent turn as Jezebel in Jacob's Ladder or as one of the many character parts she played on TV. It was always so exciting to see her pop up unexpectedly and the first time I saw her on Modern Family I had to pause the show and freak out for a good long while. She is incredibly missed.
The following is a tribute to the actress written by her nephew, Mario-Francisco Robles for Latin-Review:
I didn't call her Elizabeth, or Liz, or Leechy. She wasn't Aunt, Auntie, Tia, or Titi. To me...she was Ñaña. That was the name I assigned my aunt when I was just a baby, and it's the name I continued to refer to her as when I visited her in Los Angeles last week. She was our star. She was my star. We celebrated her triumphs. We sweated through her struggles. As a family, even when we didn't always talk, we would all do whatever we could for one another. When I got married 3 years ago, despite their being some logistical hurdles, she flew herself, her husband, and both her kids to attend my special night in New York's Hudson River Valley. Dancing with her, my uncle, and my cousins under the stars that night is a memory I've always cherished, and it's now one that I'll have to hold onto for the rest of my life.
My Ñaña is gone. She was an inspiration. A role model. A pillar. And a pisser.
She undoubtedly helped fuel my love of film. She informed my desire to be an actor, writer, and director. I followed in her foot steps at the High School of Performing Arts. It still remains my life's goal to earn a living doing what I love: Creating and performing art, transporting audiences to another place for a couple of hours. She did it all, and she made it look fun. She made it look easy. But I know it wasn't. I know she had a drive like no other, and that she was a force to be reckoned with when she decided it was time to make it big or...well, nothing. She never considered an alternative. Her singular focus was breathtaking, and awe-inspiring.
Tonight, my family is heartbroken. There's now a void that will never be filled. All we can do now is remember your sharp sense of humor, your endless hunger for life, and your never ending pursuit of happiness.
You were a great mother, wife, daughter, sister, and cousin. But you'll always be my Ñaña, #1 in a category all your own.
Image from Jacob's Ladder