The Rise and Fall of a Teen Idol: Amanda Peterson’s Tragic Story

The Rise and Fall of a Teen Idol: Amanda Peterson’s Tragic Story

Who was Amanda Peterson?

The late American actress Phyllis Amanda Peterson was born in Greeley, Colorado USA, on 8 July 1971, meaning that Cancer was her zodiac sign. She appeared in 20 TV series and movies prior to retiring from acting in 1994, and is perhaps still remembered best for portraying the main character Cindy Mancini in the 1987 romantic comedy movie “Can’t Buy Me Love”, directed by Steve Rash, and which also starred Patrick Dempsey and Courtney Gains. It follows the most popular girl at school who’s been paid $1,000 to pretend to be the school’s outcast’s girlfriend; the film won one of its four award nominations.

Image source

Education and early life

Amanda was raised in Greeley alongside her two older siblings James Jr. and Anne Marie, by their mother Sylvia who was a housewife, and father James Peterson who was an ear, nose and throat specialist.

Amanda fell in love with acting at a quite an early age, mostly because she often watched theatre plays with her family; she was just seven when she appeared in a production of “The Sound of Music”, performed at the University of Northern Colorado, and was 11 when she appeared in her first TV series, playing Elizabeth in the 1982 episode “Matthew and Elizabeth” of the family western “Father Murphy”.

Amanda studied at a local high school in New York City, having transferred there from Greeley’s University High School; she matriculated in 1989 and then focused on acting rather than on pursuing a college degree.

Roles in movies

Amanda’s debut film role was playing Dancer in the critically acclaimed 1982 family comedy “Annie”, which starred Albert Finney, Aileen Quinn and Carol Burnett, and was directed by John Huston. It follows an orphan who’s been adopted by a wealthy eccentric man, and the film won two of its 15 award nominations, including two Oscar nominations for Best Music, Original Song Score and Best Art Direction – Set Decoration.

The year 1984 saw Amanda play Gretchen in the thriller “Best Kept Secrets”, and the following year saw her appear in both the family drama “And the Children Shall Lead” and the adventure family comedy “Explorers”. She portrayed Diana in the 1988 science fiction action adventure “The Lawless Land”, directed by Jon Hess, and which starred Jsu Garcia, Leon and Xander Berkeley. Set in a dystopian future, the film follows two young people who’ve fallen in love, even though their love’s against the law.

Remembering actress Amanda Peterson today, on what would have been her 49th birthday. Amanda was best known for playing…

Posted by Raise 80’s Awareness on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Amanda also attracted attention with her portrayal of Donna Lumis in the 1989 romantic drama “Listen to Me”, written and directed by Douglas Day Stewart, and which starred Kirk Cameron, Jami Gertz and Roy Scheider. It follows the lives of several college debaters, and the film won one of its three award nominations.

Amanda’s final three film roles were in the action thriller ‘”Hell Hath No Fury”, the drama “Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories” bvoth in 1991, and the 1994 family fantasy “Windrunner”.

Roles in TV series

Amanda played Sally Frumbel in the 1982 episode “Takin’ a Chance on Love” of the family comedy “Silver Spoons”, and in 1983 and 1984 portrayed Squirt Sawyer in all the 13 episodes of the drama “Boone”, which starred Thomas Byrd, Greg Webb and Elizabeth Huddle Nyberg. The series follows Boone Sawyer who’s dreaming about becoming a famous country musician, while his father wants a different future for him; the series was nominated for seven awards.

In 1987 and 1988, Amanda starred as Sunny Sisk in all the 22 episodes of the drama “A Year in the Life”, created by John Falsey and Joshua Brand, and which also starred Adam Arkin, Trey Ames and Richard Kiley. It follows plastics manufacturer Joe Gardner whose wife’s just passed away, while his four adult children have now moved back in with him; the series won four of its seven award nominations.

Amanda’s final two TV series roles were playing Bernadette Callen in the 1990 episode “Vinnie’s Blind Date” of the family comedy “Doogie Howser, M. D.” and Elodie Rayburn in four episodes of the 1993 drama “Jack’s Place”.

Other credits

Since Amanda’s death, a number of scenes featuring her acting have been shown in various talk-shows, such as “E! True Hollywood Story”, “The Doctors” and “Entertainment Tonight”.

Awards and nominations

Amanda was nominated for five Young Artist Awards, winning one in 1988 for Best Young Actress Starring in a Television Drama Series, for her performance in “A Year in the Life”.

Life after acting and death

Amanda quit acting in 1994 and returned to her hometown; she enrolled at Middlebury College, eventually transferring to Colorado State University and a year later to the University of Northern Colorado, from which she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in 1999.

It remains unknown what Amanda did to financially support herself from 2000 until her death, but it’s known that she was addicted to drugs; she was arrested five times on drug and alcohol-related charges, and in the second half of 2005 spent three months in jail.

Amanda died on 3 July 2015, five days before she was to turn 44; the cause of death was determined to be an accidental drug overdose, as she had combined the opiate Morphine and the prescription pain management drug Gabapentin; Amanda’s remains were cremated.

Love life and relationships

Amanda was married twice. Her first husband was non-celebrity American Joseph Robert Skutvik; the date of their wedding remains undisclosed, while it’s known that their divorce was finalized on 9 April 1999.

Amanda and her second husband David Hartley exchanged vows in May 2008, while she had previously given birth to their daughter Stella Rose in 2007; the two have another child together, but his/her name and birthdate haven’t been disclosed.

Amanda and David were together until her death.

Interesting facts and hobbies

Amanda was raped by a 27 years old man when she was 15, which was only revealed by her parents after her death.

She was passionate about riding horses, and was a member of the Greeley Saddle Club.

By the time she turned 14, Amanda had appeared in close to 50 commercials.

She was considered for the lead role in the above mentioned 1982 movie “Annie”.

Amanda was writing her autobiography when she died, and was planning to return to acting.

Her parents claim that she couldn’t have died from a drug overdose, as she had been ‘clean’ for a couple of years prior to her death, and had become deeply religious.

Height, eyes and wealth

Amanda was 5ft 4ins (1.63m) tall, weighed around 120lbs (55kgs) and had blue eyes and hair.

Her net worth at the time of her death was estimated at over $50,000.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.