Thursday, December 01, 2005

Wendie Jo Sperber: 1958 - 2005

Wendie Jo Sperber, the actress probably best remembered for playing Michael J. Fox's frumpy sister in the Back to the Future films, died Tuesday after a nine year battle with breast cancer. She was in her forties.

As some of you may know, I tried to get in touch with Ms. Sperber about a year ago for Star Wars Ruined My Life. She appeared in Corvette Summer with Mark Hamill in 1978, and I wanted to ask her a few questions about the experience of working with Hamill in his first post-Star Wars film. I don't know if Wendie was too sick to conduct a proper interview or if she just didn't want to talk about Corvette Summer, but she politely declined my offer via her publicist.

At the time, I remember being pretty disappointed. Yeah, I wanted to talk to her about Corvette Summer, but I also wanted to inquire about some of the other stuff she'd done. What was it like being in 1941, Steven Spielberg's first (and pretty much only) bomb? Was John Murray cool to work with in Moving Violations? How pissed were you when FOX cancelled "Babes?" Alas, the Man Upstairs works in mysterious and sometimes frustrating ways. My interview with Wendie Jo Sperber was just not meant to be.

I'm still a fan, though, and I get a kick out of seeing her pop up in old movies on T.V. She played a neurotic crank like nobody's business. If I had to pick a favorite Sperber role, I'd go with that of Charlene Gilbert on the aforementioned "Babes." Last week, I heard Gilbert's whiny echo in the recesses of my mind as I wearily greeted the start of the Holiday Season:

"Oh's Thanksgiving again!"

Ms. Sperber also gave much of her time and efforts to raising breast cancer awareness, founding the weSPARK organization in 2001. The foundation provides free emotional support, information, and social activities for individuals whose lives have been affected by breast cancer. Check out their website here.

Rest in peace, Wendie Jo. Maybe when I die, I'll find you in the afterlife. Then I'll pester you with questions about Mark Hamill and John Murray.


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