Film and TV

Amanda Peterson, R.I.P.: Can't Buy Me Love Co-Star Found Dead in Greeley

Greeley-born Amanda Peterson co-starred in Can't Buy Me Love, an iconic teen comedy of the 1980s, alongside a young Patrick Dempsey, still years away from being christened McDreamy on Gray's Anatomy.

But after her Hollywood career wound down, she returned to her hometown.

She died there yesterday, July 5 — three days before she would have celebrated her 44th birthday.

According to the Greeley Tribune, Peterson lived in an apartment on the 5100 block of 11th Street.

The area is captured in the following interactive graphic; if you have problems seeing the image, click "View on Google Maps."

Greeley police were called to the location on a well-being check, the Tribune notes. She'd missed an appointment.

Upon their arrival, officers discovered the door unlocked and Peterson was found inside.

She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Greeley coroner's office was scheduled to conduct an autopsy on Peterson yesterday. The results of that analysis have not been made public at this writing.

Peterson's IMDB bio notes that began her film career at age nine-and-a-half with an appearance in the original 1982 movie version of the Broadway smash Annie, following a slew of gigs in commercials.

She followed this role with plenty of TV appearances in shows such as Father Murphy (a series at least partially shot in Colorado), Silver SpoonsBoone and A Year in the Life.

In 1985, Peterson returned to the big screen with a part in 1985's Explorers. Strangely enough, I was living in Los Angeles at the time and was the adult supervisor of a teen who served as an extra for a classroom scene in the film — meaning I could well have seen Peterson in person and not realized it at the time.

However, she made by far her biggest mark in 1987's Can't Buy Me Love, in which Dempsey's character paid $1,000 to Peterson's Cindy Mancini, the most popular girl in school, to be his girlfriend.

Although the movie was popular at the time of its original release, it fell short of blockbuster status. Over the intervening years, however, the flick's status has risen among fans of a certain age, who've made it into a classic of sorts for a sizable cult audience.

From there, Peterson's career began a slow winding down. She earned a slew of credits over the next several years, including 1991's Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories, about women who unpeeled for Playboy. Her last listed film or TV credit, Windrunner, is from 1994.

The online accounts of Peterson's post-Hollywood years are slender. The trivia section of the IMDB page maintains that as of 2011, she was living in Greeley, studying for a master's degree at Colorado State University, and planning to write her autobiography.

In addition, she posed for photographer Ryan Hartsock, whose web page devoted to the images has been overloaded since news of Peterson's passing went public. As such, he's shared some of the photos on his Facebook page. Here's a screen capture of several thumbnails:

To see the complete gallery, click here.

In the meantime, tributes to Peterson continue to pour in via social media. It may have been a long time since she was a movie star, but plenty of people remember her fondly.

One example: a tribute video that's among the clips on view below.

Also included is the Can't Buy Me Love trailer, a mislabeled scene from the movie, and a "where are they now" clip about the cast. Peterson's segment begins just past the eight minute mark.

Our condolences to the friends, family, loved ones and fans of Amanda Peterson.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts