American actress Rebecca Schaeffer lived out one of Hollywood's most tragic stories. Schaeffer experienced a brief and stunning rise to acclaim before she was brutally murdered at the tender age of 21.
Born in Portland, Oregon in late 1967, the delicately beautiful Schaeffer established herself as a much-sought-after model on the international circuit by the age of 14, then gained a role (at 16, in 1984) on the perennial American soap opera One Life to Live. She made a rather prestigious feature film debut at 18 years old, when cast as a Communist's daughter in Woody Allen's period piece Radio Days (1987). She then landed a coveted lead role as teenager Patti Russell, opposite Pam Dawber and David McNaughton, on the sitcom My Sister Sam, from 1986-1988. Schaeffer also played a small role in Paul Bartel's Scenes From the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills with Jacqueline Bisset and Ed Begley Jr.. She portrayed a neglected 18-year-old in The End of Innocence with Dyan Cannon, and landed a bit part in the highly rated television feature Voyage of Terror: The Achille Lauro Affair.
Though Schaeffer, by all accounts, was well on her way to a successful acting career, she wouldn't live to see the 1990 release of The End of Innocence. In 1987, a psychotic stalker who had become obsessed with Schaeffer (and was apparently upset about being denied access to a movie set where she worked) knocked on the unsuspecting actress's door and shot her several times. He was later tried and convicted by famed prosecutor Marcia Clark. Though Schaeffer's death was senseless and unbearably sad, her loved ones did gain a small comfort in knowing her murder resulted in the establishment of laws designed to protect the privacy of celebrities. At the time of her death, Schaeffer was engaged to aspiring director Brad Silberling, who then wrote a movie script with a thinly-disguised fictionalization of his own experiences following that tragedy. It was produced, years later, as the drama Moonlight Mile (2002).