Theresa Saldana, Star of ‘The Commish’ and ‘Raging Bull,’ Dies at 61

Actress was also victim of stabbing by deranged fan in 1982

Last Updated: June 7, 2016 @ 4:23 PM

Theresa Saldana, known for her role on the early Michael Chiklis series “The Commish” and the Scorsese-De Niro film “Raging Bull,” has died at age 61, Chiklis confirmed via Twitter on Tuesday.

“Painful to hear the news of Theresa’s passing. My family & I extend our love, condolences & support to her family in their time of grieving,” Chiklis wrote.

Saldana began her onscreen career in the 1978 Robert Zemeckis film “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” which was a fictional comedy about the impact of Beatlemania.

Two years later, Saldana was cast in “Raging Bull” as Lenore LaMotta, the wife of Joe Pesci‘s character. The film would go on to be nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actor and Best Editing.

In 1982, Saldana drew nationwide attention when she was stabbed outside of her LA home by a deranged fan who had seen her in “Raging Bull.” A deliveryman witnessed the attack and subdued the assailant. She was rushed to the hospital and survived after emergency surgery.

She eventually recovered and founded an advocacy group called Victims for Victims, which focused on raising national awareness on the dangers of stalkers. She also starred in a made for TV movie about the incident opposite Adrian Zmed.

After her recovery, Saldana frequently worked in television, finding guest roles on shows like “TJ Hooker,” “The Twilight Zone,” and “MacGyver” among many others.

Saldana is best known, however, for playing Rachel Scali opposite Michael Chiklis in the well-received dramedy series “The Commish.” The show ran for five seasons from 1991 to 1996. Saldana was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the show in 1994, but lost out to Julia Louis-Dreyfus from “Seinfeld.”

She retired from acting in 2004, with her last credited role being in the film “Illusion Infinity,”per her official IMDB page. Saldana is survived by her husband Phil Peters and daughter Tianna Peters.

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