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'Nebraska' Actress Angela McEwan Dies at 81

Actress Angela McEwan, who is known for her acclaimed role in the Academy Award-nonimated 2013 film "Nebraska" has passed away (Photo by Scribe Services Public Relations).

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Actress Angela McEwan, who earned acclaim for her pivotal role in the Oscar-nominated film “Nebraska,” died Sunday, Dec. 20 due to complications of lung cancer. She was 81.

The actress earned critical acclaim for her work in the Alexander Payne-directed film, playing small town newspaper editor Peg Nagy, opposite Will Forte who starred in the film with Bruce Dern who earned a 2014 Academy Award Best Actor nomination for his role.

Among the reviews she received were:

“But perhaps the biggest discovery is Angela McEwan, who plays Peg Nagy, the sweet editor of the small town's newspaper, who had had a crush on Woody when they were in high school and still regrets losing him to Kate,” wrote Susan King of the Los Angeles Times.

“The sweetest, most acute work is by Angela McEwan as Peg, an old girlfriend of Woody’s and the wisest soul in two states. She and Woody broke up, she tells David, because ‘I wouldn’t let him round the bases,’” wrote the late Richard Corliss for Time Magazine.

“The loveliest, most poignant scene in the film takes place in the sleepy office of the town’s newspaper, where David goes in quest of information and chats with the elderly editor (Angela McEwan), who, it turns out, has history with the family. It’s the scene that quietly wrenches the movie apart and makes the distant, unspoken past vibrate with a revived passionate power,” wrote Richard Brody of The New Yorker.

Such reviews encapsulated the talent of McEwan whose career in acting had begun just a scant few years earlier when she decided to return to acting after abandoning it to raise a family more than 50 years earlier.

“My mom had an amazing capacity to see good in everyone. I can’t recall ever hearing her say something negative about others,” said her son Carlos McEwan. “She believed that everyone tries to do their best within their abilities, so there is no reason to be negative. The other ability was her incredibly positive outlook on her life. Given her prognosis and the way she was physically feeling, she would be in her right to be grumpy or short, but never ever was she anything but positive and upbeat.”

McEwan’s longtime agent, Jeff Wolfman of the Fred R. Price Talent Agency said: “She was one of the kindest and gentlest souls I have ever met. Yes, soft spoken, but Angie had a huge heart and chutzpah to spare.”

Born on April 23, 1934 in Santa Monica, McEwan dreamed of becoming an actress as a child. Despite her mother’s opposition, she began to study acting at Los Angeles City College and later at UCLA when she met Guillermo McEwan a young man from Nicaragua who was studying medicine.

They soon married and moved to Mexico where she began acting. They then moved to Temple Texas and she continued to act in local theatre and was on the board of directors for the Temple Civic Theatre all while being a wife and mother. She earned a Masters Degree in Spanish from UC Irvine and taught there for several years before becoming a criminal court Spanish interpreter for nearly 30 years. After her gastroenterologist husband retired about 10 years ago, she began taking acting lessons and soon began getting roles in low budget films and television shows such as “New Girl,” “Parks and Recreation,” and others before earning her role in “Nebraska.” Most recently she had a recurring role in HBO’s cult comedy “Getting On.”

Among her other work is the upcoming independent film “The Boonville Redemption” and the film “Moments of Clarity,” released earlier this year. An accomplished writer, McEwan’s poetry was featured in such literary magazines as Revista Chicano Riquena, LUZ, Apostrophe and many others.

She was first diagnosed with cancer in October 2014 just prior to the premiere of “Getting On.” She continued to audition and work steadily even as her illness and treatment took their toll.

McEwan is survived by her sons Carlos McEwan and William McEwan and her grandchildren Lynsey, Ian and Ellis McEwan. Her husband Guillermo McEwan died in 2009. Services are pending.

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