Deborah Raffin Of ‘7th Heaven’ Dead
Recently Deborah Raffin passed away at the age of 59. She was suffering from leukemia and was admitted at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles last Wednesday after being diagnosed with the blood cancer over a year ago. She was primarily a film and television actress, who later became an audiobook publisher. Raffin was born in Los Angeles, California to Trudy Marshall, a Brooklyn-born former movie actress, and Phillip Jordan Raffin, a restaurateur and business executive.
She appeared in several 1970s Hollywood films. Her 1976 television movie Nightmare in Badham County became a theatrical hit in mainland China, making Raffin a star there, and leading to her later becoming the first Western actress ever to make a movie promotion tour in that country. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama for her performance in Touched by Love in 1981. In 1988, she starred in James Clavell’s Noble House with Pierce Brosnan. In 1991, she appeared as Julie Vale, a telepath, in the cult film Scanners II: The New Order.
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She later appeared as Aunt Julie on the television show 7th Heaven, and as Dr. Hightower in the ABC Family teenager series, The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She was married to movie producer Michael Viner (1944-2009) in 1974; the couple later became audiobook publishers; they had one child and divorced in 2005. Interestingly, she was second choice for the part of Sandy in Grease (1978) after Susan Dey. Dey passed and producer Allan Carr had Raffin in mind before a fateful dinner at Helen Reddy’s house where she invited a fellow Australian singer, Olivia Newton-John.
Also, she was originally supposed to play Molly Bell in The Jazz Singer (1980). The part went to Lucie Arnaz instead. She starred in the made-for-TV movie Nightmare in Badham County (1976), which was a huge hit as a theatrical feature in China. Raffin became the unofficial ambassador from Hollywood to China. She arranged meetings between Hollywood luminaries and Chinese leaders and filmmakers to secure distribution of Chinese films in America and American films in China.
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