Theresa Saldana, ‘The Commish’ and ‘Raging Bull’ Star, Dies At 61
Theresa Saldana, the actress who appeared in The Commish and Raging Bull, died on Monday. Two friends of the actress took to Facebook to share the news this week. Saldana, 61, had been hospitalized in Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, but no cause of death was given.
The Brooklyn-born actress’s career gained traction from her role in Robert Zemeckis’ Beatle-mania-themed 1978 film I Wanna Hold Your Hand. Saldana also appeared in Defiance and Home Movies in 1980.
Her career took off after her role in Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film Raging Bull, ranked in the top five on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest American Films of All Time. She played the wife of Joe Pesci’s character, brother to Robert De Niro’s boxer Jake La Motta.
Saldana was also known for starting the the Victims for Victims Foundation after being attacked by a stalker in 1982. She survived a life-threatening 10 stabs in front of her West Hollywood apartment by attacker Arthur Richard Jackson. Jackson was convicted of attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury. After being released in 1996, he was deported to the U.K., where he was committed to a psychiatric institution after admitting to the murder of a man 30 years earlier. Jackson died in 2004.
Victims for Victims advocated for anti-stalking laws. Saldana served as the voice for the raising issue of violence against celebrities. She played herself in the 1984 TV movie Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story. The movie was nominated for one prime-time Emmy Award. In 1987, Saldana also published a memoir, “Beyond Survival.”
In 1994 Saldana co-starred in The Commish, a role for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe. She played the wife of the title character, a police commissioner played by Michael Chiklis. Chills shared his condolences in a tweet:
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.
— Michael Chiklis (@MichaelChiklis) June 7, 2016
After the attack, Saldana worked mostly in episodic television, with roles in T.J. Hooker, Cagney & Lacey, Simon & Simon, Matlock, Hunter, Falcon Crest and MacGyver.