THERESA SALDANA, ACTRESS AND ATTACK SURVIVOR
Theresa Saldana, who played Joe Pesci’s wife in the Martin Scorsese film “Raging Bull” and, in a 1984 television movie, relived a near-fatal knife attack she experienced at the hands of a stalker, died on Monday in Los Angeles. She was 61.
Her death was reported by The Associated Press, which did not state a cause.
Ms. Saldana began attracting notice in “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” a 1978 film about Beatlemania in which she played a star-struck and determined New Jersey teenager, and as a nice girl in a tough neighborhood in the 1980 revenge thriller “Defiance.” Her career took a giant step forward when she was cast in “Raging Bull” as Lenore LaMotta, the sister-in-law of the boxer Jake LaMotta, played by Robert De Niro.
On March 15, 1982, leaving her apartment building in West Hollywood to go to a music class, she was approached by a man who asked if she was Theresa Saldana. When she said yes, he launched a frenzied attack, stabbing her 10 times in the chest, arms and legs with a hunting knife.
She survived only because a passing deliveryman stopped his truck, fought off the assailant and held him until the police arrived. Ms. Saldana spent the next three and a half months in a hospital.
“I will never forget the searing, ghastly pain, the grotesque and devastating experience of this person nearly butchering me to death, or the bone-chilling sight of my own blood splattered everywhere,” Ms. Saldana told a judge in 1984.
In his diary he wrote that he was on a “divine mission” and intended to win Ms. Saldana by “sending her into eternity.” After the attack, he wrote a letter to Ms. Saldana saying that he regretted using a knife on her because “a gun would have given me a better chance of reunion with you in heaven.”
After her recovery, Ms. Saldana formed Victims for Victims, an organization devoted to helping others who had suffered violent attacks, and to campaigning for anti-stalker laws.
Mr. Jackson, after serving 15 years in prison, was extradited to Britain for trial in connection with a 1966 robbery and homicide. He was sent to a psychiatric hospital, where he died in 2004.
Ms. Saldana quickly resumed her acting career. After the TV movie “Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story,” she appeared in the 1984 Charles Bronson film “The Evil That Men Do” and in guest roles on several television series.
In the early 1990s, she had a starring role in the television series “The Commish” as Rachel Scali, the wife of the police commissioner Tony Scali, played by Michael Chiklis.
Theresa Saldana was born on Aug. 20, 1954, in Brooklyn. She took dance lessons as a child and, after suffering a serious shoulder injury while part of a tumbling team, enrolled in acting classes at 12.
After being spotted in the Off Broadway musical “The New York City Street Show” in 1977 she was cast in the 1978 film “Nunzio,” an Italian-American family melodrama.
Dr. Eugene Keller, who had treated Ms. Saldana at Cedars-Sinai Hospital, told The New York Times in 1984 that the filming was disorienting. “Theresa began to moan, and I asked her, ‘Are you O.K.? Are we hurting you?’ And she said, ‘No, I’m fine. I’m acting.’”
Ms. Saldana said: “Working on the film released a lot of tension for me. As we shot, I felt elated and creative. I felt that I was capable of anything. How many people are offered the opportunity to go back in time and relive a traumatic experience, but without any of the physical or emotional pain that they felt the first time?”
She later wrote a memoir about her attack, “Beyond Survival” (1987).
In the 1980s she appeared in small roles on “Cagney & Lacey,” “Falcon Crest,” “MacGyver” and other series.
Ms. Saldana’s first marriage ended in divorce. Her survivors include her husband, the actor Phil Peters, and a daughter, Tianna Saldana Peters.
An obituary on Thursday about the actress Theresa Saldana misspelled the surname of the character she played on the television series “The Commish.” The character was Rachel Scali, not Skali. (As the obituary correctly noted, her character’s husband, played by Michael Chiklis, was Tony Scali.)SOURCE
PATTI GRACE SMITH, CHAMPION OF PRIVATE SPACE TRAVEL
Patti Grace Smith, a federal aviation official who loosened the regulatory reins in Washington to help spur the growth of the embryonic commercial space transportation industry, died on Sunday in Washington. She was 68.
The cause was pancreatic cancer, her brother, Douglas Jones Jr., said.
Appointed in 1998 to a newly created post, Ms. Smith was the first person to head the Federal Aviation Administration’s agency for commercial space transportation.
During her tenure, the F.A.A. licensed the first inland commercial spaceport in the country, the Mojave Air & Space Port in California, and the launch there in 2004 of SpaceShipOne, the first privately developed manned vehicle to reach space.
She oversaw the rule-making for human spaceflight in privately developed programs and for reusable launch vehicles, and she retained her office’s jurisdiction over suborbital space travel, rather than ceding it to aviation officials who were more likely to impose stricter protocols.
In an email, Elon Musk, the PayPal and Tesla entrepreneur who founded SpaceX, a company that has developed launch vehicles, wrote that Ms. Smith had “helped lay the foundations for a new era in American spaceflight.”
“We are closer to becoming a multiplanet species because of her efforts,” he added.
Ms. Smith said it was important to build an unambiguous regulatory framework in which business could flourish.
“She would tell you that the role of writing laws and regulations is every bit as important to space travel as the rocket itself,” said James A. M. Muncy, founder of the space policy consulting firm PoliSpace.
The agency’s primary goal, Mr. Muncy said, was “to protect the public, national security and foreign policy.” But after that, he said, Ms. Smith’s focus was on licensing, “biased toward allowing people to risk their own money and their own lives and a mandate to encourage, facilitate and promote the growth of the industry.”
An English major in college, Ms. Smith might have seemed an unlikely pioneer in the rarefied, mostly male vanguard of private investors and scientists who would become captivated by the potential of space travel.
In her public speaking, Ms. Smith was a proselytizer for space travel.
“Space is an attitude,” she said during a lecture in 2013 at the Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at the University of California, San Diego. “It’s a set of capabilities, an acceptance of risk-taking activities to uncover potential breakthroughs and endless possibilities. That is precisely why we love it.”
“What really gets me excited,” she said, “is thinking about the endgame: the opportunity to explore it, to one day inhabit it and create a civilization that includes all the lessons learned from living on Earth — to one day getting it right.”
Patricia Grace Jones was born in Tuskegee, Ala., on Nov. 10, 1947. Her father, Douglas Sr., managed the canteen at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Tuskegee after retiring from the Air Force. Her mother, the former Wilhelmina Griffin, was a personnel clerk at the hospital.
As a teenager Patricia, along with other black students, was barred from the all-white Tuskegee High School, prompting a 1963 lawsuit and wrangling between Gov. George C. Wallace and the federal government over integrating the school.
The lawsuit, Lee v. Macon County Board of Education, was later expanded to include all of Alabama’s public schools and universities and led to a blanket desegregation order that was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.
Besides her brother, she is survived by her husband, John Clay Smith; three sons, Eugene, Michael and Stager; a daughter, Michelle Davis; 12 grandchildren; and a sister, Wilma Scott.
Ms. Smith graduated from Tuskegee Institute with a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and worked in broadcasting. She started her government career with the Federal Communications Commission, working on satellite communications, before going to work for the Defense Communications Agency and the Department of Transportation, where she was chief of staff of the Office of Commercial Space Transportation when that office was transplanted to the aviation agency in 1995. Her title at the F.A.A. was associate administrator.
She retired in 2008 and opened a consulting firm.
“She had a vision, and she saw it much more clearly and earlier than other people did,” said Bretton Alexander, director of business development and strategy for Blue Origin, the space transportation company owned by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com. “And she plodded away to get there and never let the bureaucratic encumbrances of Washington stop that from happening.”
HELEN CHAVEZ, FARN ACTIVIST’S WIDOW AND UNION PARTNER
Helen Chavez, the widow of the civil rights and farm labor leader Cesar Chavez, died on Monday in Bakersfield, Calif. She was 88.
Her family announced her death in a statement released through the United Farm Workers, the union her husband founded. No cause was given.
Though Ms. Chavez preferred to be out of the spotlight, she was active in the union, serving as its bookkeeper and the head of its credit union. She was arrested in 1978 for demonstrating at a farm where the Teamsters represented workers picking cantaloupes.
President Obama issued a statement on Tuesday calling Ms. Chavez “a force of quiet strength” who “left a legacy that will echo for generations.’’
Born on Jan. 21, 1928, in Brawley, in the California desert near the Mexico border, Helen Fabela met Mr. Chavez in the mid-1940s and married him in 1948, after he left the Navy.
The couple had eight children, and Helen Chavez had to care for them alone for long stretches while her husband, whose speaking and organizing skills were in great demand, was traveling. They lived in Delano, Calif., where she often did farm field work herself while he was gone, sometimes with her children working alongside her.
“While Cesar was organizing, I was picking grapes or doing whatever field work was available,” she was quoted in “Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa” by Jacques E. Levy. “I’d work 10 hours a day, five days a week, for 85 cents an hour, I think.” All while caring for her children, cooking meals and keeping house.
“I think the beginning of the union was the roughest time we had.”
She is survived by seven children, 31 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Last year, Ms. Chavez appeared at her husband’s graveside and accepted a folded flag as he received the military honors that he had not been given at his death.
CreditAndrew Eccles/Crown Media, via Associated Press
Mr. Howe, who only fully retired from his playing career at age 52, was regarded as one of the sport’s best all-around players.
GORDIE HOWE, HOCKEY LEGEND
Updated 1:29 PM ET, Fri June 10, 2016
(CNN)“Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, whose career spanned six decades and included four Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings, died Friday, his son, Marty Howe, told CNN. He was 88.