Rebecca began modeling at the age of 16, going off to New York on her own to begin her career. Four months later, she found herself in Japan, modeling. Eventually, she landed a co-starring role on My Sister Sam (1986), for which she is now best known. In 1989 she also became a spokesperson for Thursday’s Child, a charity for at-risk teens.
In April of that same year, having missed a signing due to filming, she reluctantly went to a girl’s shelter to sign autographs. “No one will recognize me”, she insisted, “or want my autograph,” but as it turned out all of them did. In fact, the girls were so in awe that they invited her to the Renaissance Fair in May; Rebecca accepted.
Only two months later, she lay dead on the pavement in front of her new apartment in West Hollywood, having been shot to death by a paranoid schizophrenic fan around her age, Robert John Bardo, who came to her apartment asking for an autograph. She obliged, even though she was busy rehearsing in her apartment for the most important role of her short career. He later said he felt rejected by her because she didn’t spend more time with him at her door.
He returned a few minutes later, pressed the buzzer, and when she again opened the door for him, he shot shot her once in the chest, placing the bullet directly into her heart. Rebecca screamed out, “Why?” then fell backward in the doorway, and was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai hospital within minutes of arriving there by ambulance after the shooting.
The killer fled to Tuscon, AZ, and the next morning the previously diagnosed “psychiatric patient”, was found walking blindly, appearing to be hoping to be hit and killed by a car or truck on a major highway. He was subsequently arrested, transferred back to Los Angeles, and plea-bargained for a life sentence without the possibility of parole, with a then young assistant district attorney named Marcia Clark, who later became famous for her failed attempt to convict O.J. Simpson of murder. There was a trial by Judge that lasted a month, because the obsessed fan changed his mind about the plea bargain agreement, and pleaded an ‘insanity defense’. He was found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.