‘Precious Gift’ of Actress Told at Funeral Rite

Times Staff Writer

“I do it for me

I have the right to say no

I live for now

Life is not a movie .


--Rebecca Schaeffer

Untitled Poem, July, 1989

Slain actress Rebecca Schaeffer was eulogized here Sunday as “a precious gift--a gift that was snatched back, but one that will give us extraordinary memories.”

Rabbi Joshua Stampfer told the 200 mourners at Ahavai Sholom Cemetery’s small chapel that Schaeffer “brought in her short life more joy to more people than most of us achieve in a lifetime.”


Time after time, Schaeffer’s mother, Danna, placed her hand atop the simple wooden casket with white lilies and roses on top.

Schaeffer’s best friend, Barbara Lusch, and the actress’ boyfriend, Bradley Silberling, had stayed up the night before, typing Schaeffer’s poems and binding them with pastel ribbons--making a personal memorial for each mourner.

Schaeffer, 21, was killed last Tuesday when she opened the door to her West Hollywood apartment building to find a man with a handgun waiting for her.

Police allege that Robert Bardo, 19, of Tucson, who investigators describe as an “obsessed fan,” fired a single bullet into her chest. He is being held on $1-million bail in the Arizona city.


Friends from Eugene and Portland, along with Pam Dawber, Schaeffer’s co-star from the television series “My Sister Sam,” and her husband, actor Mark Harmon, also mourned the actress Sunday.

“I met the most sparkling soul who I wanted to spend my life with,” Silberling, of Los Angeles, said, unable to hold back his tears. “And her name is Rebecca.”

His sentiments triggered an outburst of emotion from the mourners.

“She always said I love to be held so close,” Silberling continued. “So please hold her close in your hearts because . . .” His voice trailed off.


“It is truth that we are shocked by the senselessness and meaninglessness of what happened,” Rabbi Emanuel Rose, of Portland’s Temple Beth Israel, said of Schaeffer’s murder.

Questioning the ready availability of handguns in this country, Rose said: “We are angered--angry at a stranger, angry at a nation and revolving political leaders who refuse to eliminate the source of agony among so many Americans.”

Pointing out that the actress had helped her father, Dr. Benson Schaeffer, a child psychologist, teach a class at the temple for developmentally disabled youngsters, Rose said: “Rebecca was special. She achieved. She had perspective. She had perceptions and successes at an age where most others are barely beginning to know who they are.”

All that Rebecca Schaeffer was and accomplished was reason for “gratitude to God for her life,” the rabbi said. “These qualities must become the balance for the days ahead. For without that sense of gratitude, we are doomed to despair.”


After the ceremony, conducted in English and Hebrew, Schaeffer’s relatives stood at the grave site with their hands on the casket before it was slowly lowered into the earth. Then, her parents and other relatives took turns throwing a ceremonial shovelful of dirt into the grave.

Other mourners plucked flowers from bouquets near the grave and dropped them on the casket.

“Oh Rebecca,” her grieving father said of his only child. “We’re always thinking of you. We will always think of you.”