Television actress made fairly famous by her role on the 1980s sitcom My Sister Sam. Murdered by an obsessed fan at age 21.
Schaeffer was born on Nov. 6, 1967, in Eugene, OR, and dropped out of high school for a successful career as a teen model in New York and Japan before breaking into Hollywood with a part in an Amazing Stories episode. Her role as Patti Russell on My Sister Sam, starring opposite Pam Dawber as a girl who lives with her older sister, followed the next year when the series premièred in 1986.
That same year, she started getting letters from Robert John Bardo, a schizophrenic who had also tried -- and failed -- to get close to teen starlets Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.
Things were just beginning seriously to take off for Schaeffer in 1989. She'd gotten a place of her own -- she lived with Dawber and her husband Mark Harmon for the first years of the show they worked on. She'd appeared in a movie, The End of Innocence, and was about to audition for The Godfather, Part III.
On the morning of July 18, 1989, Bardo, then 19, came to the door of her apartment building and buzzed her. He was angry because she wasn't returning his letters and because he'd failed to get close to Schaeffer at work to give her a teddy bear, and had a new letter to hand her. Schaeffer, running late for the Godfather audition, answered the door because the intercom wasn't working; she told him to go away.
He rang again. This time, when she answered, Bardo shot her twice. She died on the doorstep.
Bardo was arrested in Tucson the next day, wandering in traffic. He pled guilty and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. According to the seriously creepy www.findadeath.com, Bardo was prosecuted by Marcia Clark.
The Schaeffer family buried Rebecca in Oregon.
The Screen Actors Guild, angry that a private-detective agency had been able to track down Schaeffer's address for Bardo simply by asking at the Department of Motor Vehicles, got the California rules changed to protect people's privacy by closing the records.