Rebecca Lucile Schaeffer (November 6, 1967 – July 18, 1989) was an American actress who was stalked and then murdered, prompting the passage of anti-stalking laws in California. Schaeffer was best known for her role in the sitcom My Sister Sam.
A former teenage model, Schaeffer co-starred with Pam Dawber in My Sister Sam, a CBS sitcom that ran from 1986 to 1988. During her early life in Portland, Oregon, she was active with her synagogue, in which she was instrumental in expanding a Jewish youth organization to nationwide prominence. Schaeffer lived alone and owned one pet, a cat named Katharine, named after her favorite actress, Katharine Hepburn.
In 1989, she became a celebrity spokesperson for Thursday's Child, a charity for at-risk teens.
Bardo had written several letters to Schaeffer (one of which was answered) and twice attempted to gain entry to the My Sister Sam set, but was turned away by CBS Television City security. Bardo, who had read in a magazine that Theresa Saldana's stalker, Arthur Richard Jackson, had obtained her address through a private investigator, used that approach to get to Schaeffer. He paid $250 to a Tucson, Arizona detective agency to obtain her home address from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After viewing her film Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills, in which Schaeffer appeared in bed with a male actor, Bardo became intent upon murdering her for her perceived "loss of innocence," traveled to Los Angeles and buzzed her apartment, requesting her autograph when she came down to answer the door.
Schaeffer, who was preparing for her audition for The Godfather Part III and was expecting him to be the man delivering her script, gave him an autograph, then retreated back to her apartment. Bardo returned about 20 minutes later and buzzed a second time. Schaeffer once more came down, again believing it was the delivery man. At his trial, Bardo stated, "She had this kid voice... sounded like a little brat or something... said I was wasting her time!... Wasting her time!" Bardo pulled out a gun from a brown paper bag, and shot her once at point-blank range in the chest, in the doorway of her apartment building..
A neighbor phoned paramedics, who quickly arrived to transport her to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Schaeffer was pronounced dead 30 minutes after her arrival. The following day, Bardo was arrested in Tucson, after motorists reported a man darting through traffic on Interstate 10. He confessed immediately 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 on December 20, 1991.
Schaeffer's story is recounted in the true crime book True Stories of Law & Order by Kevin Dwyer and Juré Fiorillo. (Berkley/Penguin 2006. ISBN-10: 0425217353)
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