Rebecca Schaeffer’s ‘My Sister Sam’ Co-Star Still Devastated by her Murder 30 Years Later

By Tiffany Meier

Pam Dawber, best known for her role in the hit TV show “Mork & Mindy,” opened up about her struggles dealing with the loss of former “My Sister Sam” co-star.

Dawber participated in a two-hour ABC “20/20” documentary airing on Friday, April 12, that delves into the details of Rebecca Schaeffer’s murder by an obsessed fan almost 30 years ago, according to ABC News.

Dawber and Schaeffer played siblings in the hit TV show, “My Sister Sam,” that ran from 1986-1988. Dawber said Schaeffer was like a real-life sister to her on and off the show.

“We just kind of fell into this sisterly thing,” Dawber said. “‘Cause I’d had a sister. My sister passed away when she was 22 and I was 25. And so having another young girl in the house was something I was very comfortable with. It was good for us.”

Dawber even invited Schaeffer to live in her home in Los Angeles for a few months as Schaeffer was still a teenager at the time and had just left New York.

During that time, “My Sister Sam” became a hit in its first season. It became so popular that Schaeffer was featured on the cover of Seventeen magazine, reported ABC News.

“I was thrilled that she was getting to really, really enjoy… a big show biz life,” Dawber said.

Eventually, Schaeffer moved out and got her own apartment, a one-bedroom in West Hollywood. Schaeffer became “busy living her life and meeting people and having friends,” Dawber said.

“The one thing we did say to her, though: ‘You never put your real name on your mailbox, Rebecca.’ … And she didn’t listen to that,” Dawber said.

“It’s like, ‘You’re on a hit show…we’re gonna go on this show for a while. Do not put your last name on that mailbox,’ and she did,” Dawber continued.

At the time, Schaeffer was preparing for the role of a lifetime: a chance to be in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather Part III.”

One day in 1989, as she was waiting for her audition script to arrive, her longtime stalker, an obsessed fan named Robert Bardo, traveled from Arizona to Los Angeles and shot her at point blank at the door of her apartment.

Schaeffer was rushed to the hospital where she died at age 21.

The Obsessed Stalker: Robert Bardo

Bardo said he first noticed Schaeffer in a promo for “My Sister Sam” in the summer of 1986, according to Fox News. He began watching the shows she was in and taping them for later. He also sent her a plethora of fan letters. When she responded to one of his letters, he became completely obsessed and flew to the Los Angeles studio “My Sister Sam” was filmed in, hoping to meet her.

Bardo would bring gifts for her, but he never made it past security, reported Fox News.

After “My Sister Sam” was canceled, Schaeffer began taking movie roles. When she appeared in a love scene in the 1989 film, “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills,” Bardo snapped.

Bardo tried to buy a gun but was turned down by the store after mentioning his mental health issues, according to ABC News.

However, he was able to convince his brother to buy him a gun, making him believe it was for shooting practice.

Bardo hired a private detective, who found out Schaeffer’s address from the Department of Motor Vehicles, and set off for her apartment.

As Schaeffer waited for the script to arrive on the morning of July 18, 1989, Bardo rang her bell. When she answered the door, he showed her the card she had sent him and an autographed photo of her, saying he was her biggest fan. She politely excused herself, saying she had an interview to get ready for, police said.

Bardo went to a nearby diner, ate something, and returned to her apartment. When she opened her door and saw Bardo again, Schaeffer reportedly told him he was wasting her time. Bardo pulled out his handgun in response and fatally shot her point blank, reported ABC News.

Bardo went back to Arizona but was apprehended the next day when he yelled about killing Schaeffer, according to Fox News.

After Schaeffer’s murder, Dawber said she was filled with “rage” because of how easily Bardo managed to get Schaeffer’s address.

“I [had guilt] for years because I was so devastated, as everyone else was as well,” she said, according to ABC News. “I thought of Rebecca every day of my life probably for about two years. But I couldn’t keep diving in … I almost had to let my relationship with her parents go. There’s something just so painful about the thought … I hadn’t spoken to them since her death and possibly funeral, and I have felt guilty about that for all those years.”

She also praised Schaeffer’s parents. “Her parents were so… brilliant in the way they handled it. “It’s almost like, ‘How did they survive it?'”

Following Schaeffer’s death, the Los Angeles Police Department created the nation’s first team specializing in stalking investigations in 1989.

In 1991, Bardo was convicted of first-degree murder. Superior Court Judge Dino Fulgoni, also found Bardo guilty of the “special circumstance of lying in wait to kill the actress, requiring a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

In 1994, a new Driver’s Privacy Protection Act was passed in California, preventing the Department of Motor Vehicles from releasing information of private addresses.