Rebecca Schaeffer on the TV series, My Sister Sam
|Born||Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer
November 6, 1967
Eugene, Oregon, U.S.
|Died||July 18, 1989
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Homicide|
|Resting place||Ahavai Sholom Cemetery|
|Education||Lincoln High School|
Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer (November 6, 1967 – July 18, 1989) was an American model and child television and film actress.
Schaeffer began her career as a teen model before moving on to acting. In 1986, she landed the role of Patricia "Patty" Russell in the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam. After the series was canceled in 1988, Schaeffer appeared in several films, including the black comedy Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, which was released six weeks before her death.
In July 1989, Schaeffer was fatally shot in the doorway of her Los Angeles apartment building by Robert John Bardo. Bardo, then 19 years old, was obsessed with Schaeffer and had been stalking her for three years. He was sentenced to life imprisonment for her murder.
Schaeffer's death prompted the passage of anti-stalking laws in California.
Early life and career 
Schaeffer, the only child of a child psychologist and a writer, was raised in Portland, Oregon, where she attended Lincoln High School. As a teen, she began modeling and appeared in television commercials and as an extra in a television film. "I took one look and fell in love with her," stated Nannette Troutman after Rebecca's death, who owned the first talent agency that Schaeffer came to. She continued by describing her characteristics and physical appearance, saying that "She had a fresh charismatic way about her and was very gorgeous, with big brown eyes, dimples and a beautiful smile."
After the series ended in 1988, Schaeffer went on to appear in Radio Days (although much of her performance was deleted), Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, The End of Innocence and the television film Out of Time. She served as a spokesperson for the children's charity Thursday's Child.
On July 18, 1989, Schaeffer was murdered by Robert John Bardo, an obsessed fan who had been stalking her for three years. Bardo had become obsessed with Schaeffer after his previous obsession, child peace activist Samantha Smith, died in an airplane crash in 1985. Bardo wrote several letters to Schaeffer, one of which was replied to by an employee of Schaeffer's fan service. In 1987, Bardo traveled to Los Angeles hoping to meet with Schaeffer at the My Sister Sam set, but was turned away by CBS Television City security. Angry, he returned a month later armed with a knife but security guards prevented him from gaining access to the actress a second time. Bardo returned to his native Tucson and lost focus on Schaeffer for a while and became preoccupied by pop singers Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.
In 1989, after viewing Schaeffer's film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, in which she appeared in bed with a male actor, Bardo became enraged and decided that Schaeffer should be punished for becoming "another Hollywood whore". Learning that Theresa Saldana's stalker, Arthur Richard Jackson, had tracked Saldana's address via a private investigator, Bardo approached a detective agency in Tucson and paid them $250 to track Schaeffer's home address via California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) records. Bardo's brother helped him get a Ruger GP100 .357-caliber handgun because he was underage at the time (Bardo was then 19).
Bardo then traveled to Los Angeles a third time and, after locating Schaeffer's apartment, roamed the neighborhood asking passersby if Schaeffer actually lived there. Certain that the address was correct, he approached the porch and rang the doorbell. Schaeffer, who was preparing for an audition for a role in The Godfather III, answered the door. Bardo showed Schaeffer a letter and autograph she had previously sent him and, after a short conversation, Schaeffer asked Bardo not to come back to her home again. He then went to a local diner nearby and had breakfast. An hour later, Bardo returned to Schaeffer's apartment for a second time. Schaeffer answered the door again with "a cold look on her face," Bardo later said. Bardo pulled out a gun from a brown paper bag and shot her at point-blank range in the chest in the doorway of her apartment building. Schaeffer screamed and collapsed in her doorway as Bardo fled. A neighbor phoned paramedics, who arrived to transport her to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Schaeffer was pronounced dead 30 minutes after her arrival. The next day, Bardo was arrested in Tucson, after motorists reported a man running through traffic on Interstate 10. He immediately confessed to the murder.
Bardo was tried by prosecutor Marcia Clark, who later became famous for her role in the O.J. Simpson trial. Convicted of capital murder in a bench trial, Bardo was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Following Schaeffer's murder and Saldana's assault, California laws regarding the release of personal information through the DMV were drastically changed. The Driver's Privacy Protection Act was enacted in 1994, which prevents the DMV from releasing private addresses.
Shortly after her death, Dawber, and her My Sister Sam co-stars Joel Brooks, David Naughton and Jenny O'Hara reunited to film a public service announcement about violence prevention. In the public service announcement, Dawber stated that Rebecca was only 21 years old when her life was ended and had her remaining three costars beside her. Their positions were similar to a picture of the four with Rebecca included, before the picture transitioned to them then-currently without Rebecca, showing the void left empty after her death. After Rebecca's death, Thursday's Child's website became a dedication to her.
In the same interview as Dawber, O'Hara bitterly recalled the events of her death, stating that Robert John Bardo "would have done what he did somewhere else, he was just hellbent on finding her, she didn't know that he existed". Schaeffer's life and death became the topic of the first E! True Hollywood Story episode, which originally aired on March 29, 1996. Her death and a brief overview were highlighted in 20 Most Horrifying Hollywood Murders. At the time of her death, Schaeffer was dating director Brad Silberling. Her death served as the inspiration for Silberling's 2002 film Moonlight Mile.
Even decades after her death, Rebecca is still referenced and mentioned by many, mostly having to do with stalking cases.
In 2008, Debbie Gibson, whom was also stalked by Robert John Bardo was stalked again by another man. "I was very young at the time, but it was scary, because I realized that whether you live or die can come down to security," said Gibson during an interview with People magazine. She mentioned Rebecca and her scenario by stating that "this woman answered her door and was killed. From then, I've always had good security. I can't let it slow me down."
|One Life to Live||1985||Annie Barnes||Unknown episodes|
|Amazing Stories||1986||Miss Crowningshield||Episode: "Miscalculation"|
|My Sister Sam||1986 to 1988||Patti Russell||44 episodes|
|Radio Days||1987||Communists' Daughter|
|Out of Time||1988||Pam Wallace||Television movie|
|Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills||1989||Zandra|
|The End of Innocence||1990||Stephanie (18–25 years old)||Released posthumously|
|Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair||1990||Cheryl||Television movie; released posthumously|
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