Saldana in 1981
August 20, 1954|
Brooklyn, New York
Theresa Saldana (born August 20, 1954) is an American actress, known for her work in motion pictures and television. She is perhaps best known for her role as Rachel Scali, the wife of Police Commissioner Tony Scali, in the 1990s television series The Commish, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role, in 1994. Major film roles include the part of 'Lenore La Motta', the wife of Joe Pesci's character, in the 1980 feature film Raging Bull and Robert Zemeckis's Beatle-mania ensemble I Wanna Hold Your Hand. She also appeared in Home Movies with Kirk Douglas and Nancy Allen for director Brian DePalma in 1980. The crime of stalking was brought to early attention after Saldana survived a brutal attempted murder by an obsessed fan in 1982.
On March 15, 1982, Saldana was the stalking victim of Arthur Richard Jackson, a 46-year-old drifter from Aberdeen, Scotland. Jackson became attracted to Saldana after seeing her in the 1980 film Defiance. He obtained Saldana's address by hiring a private investigator to obtain the unlisted phone number of Saldana's mother. Jackson then called Saldana's mother and posed as Martin Scorsese's assistant, saying he needed Saldana's residential address in order to contact her for replacing an actress in a film role in Europe.
Jackson approached Saldana in front of her California residence in broad daylight and stabbed her in the torso 10 times with a 5 1/2 inch (14cm) knife, nearly killing her. The attack was so fierce that he bent the blade. Although there were many nearby onlookers, the attack was only interrupted when delivery man Jeff Fenn heard her cries, rushed from the second floor of an apartment building, and subdued Jackson. Saldana recovered after four hours of surgery and a four-month hospital stay at the Motion Picture Hospital. She relived the incident in the made for TV movie The Theresa Saldana Story and again in an episode of Hunter.
Jackson served a 14-year prison term for both the assault and making threats against Saldana and her rescuer while in prison. He was then extradited to the United Kingdom in 1996 to be tried for a 1966 robbery/murder. Jackson (who once saw himself as "the benevolent angel of death") died of heart failure in a British mental hospital in 2004 at age 68.
Fenn was awarded a Carnegie Medal and was compensated by the Carnegie Hero Fund for his actions. Fenn had long expressed an interest in Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department training and was immediately given the opportunity to take and pass the entrance exam, after which he graduated from the academy and became a deputy sheriff.
Following her long recovery, Saldana founded the Victims for Victims organization and participated in lobbying for the 1990 anti-stalking law and the 1994 Driver's Privacy Protection Act, both of which came into being partly as a consequence of the attack. The experience also inspired Saldana to play herself in the television movie Victims for Victims: The Theresa Saldana Story, and she authored the book Beyond Survival, a memoir of her experiences after being attacked.
Performing arts advocacy
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