Theresa Saldana, Best Known For ‘The Commish,’ Victims’ Advocacy, Dies At 61

Theresa Saldana, who ’90s audiences would remember as the wife of Michael Chiklis’ Tony Scali on The Commish, has died. She was 61.

It would appear that her former TV spouse Chiklis was deeply distressed about Theresa Saldana the day she died, although it seems he was uncertain of the news.

Theresa Saldana has been retired from acting for the last 12 years but was a tireless victims’ advocate up until her death, as she was well aware of the importance of advocacy for victims of crime. In 1982, Theresa Saldana was stabbed viciously 10 times by Arthur Richard Jackson, and had it not been for deliveryman Jeff Fenn, she may well have died from her injuries. As it was, her situation was precarious; Jackson had stabbed Theresa Saldana so ferociously that the blade bent. By the time Fenn wrestled the knife away from Jackson and Theresa Saldana had gotten to the hospital, thanks to some paramedics who quickly arrived on scene, a great deal of the blood had drained from her body and her heart had stopped.

Theresa Saldana had proven herself far more indomitable than Jackson may have predicted; not only did she survive the brutal attack, she played herself in a television movie based on the events of the attack. In an interview with People in 1989, just seven years after the attack, Theresa Saldana said that she didn’t “think about Arthur Jackson” and that she had a lot to be excited about. At the time, she was expecting a baby with her husband and was even newly married.

During that interview, though, Theresa Saldana acknowledged how frustrating it was that there was no law that could guarantee Jackson would stay behind bars. Jackson was sentenced to 12 years for attempted murder and inflicting great bodily injury at the time.

“The problem is someone wants to kill me,” she acknowledged. “There is someone who says he is going to carry out a murder and they’re letting him out. What does that mean for the rest of your life? How does a child go to school? What are we supposed to do?”

Arthur Richard Jackson was scheduled to be deported to his native Scotland following his parole hearing, according to New York Times, but he ended up serving additional time due to death threats. Gizmodo reports that he was extradited to England to stand trial for a 30-year-old murder unrelated to the assault on Theresa Saldana. He ended up being found not guilty due to “diminished responsibility” and was in a psychiatric hospital for the rest of his life. He died in 2004.

The attack, as well as the television movie and the episode of Hunter inspired by the story of her attack, inspired Theresa Saldana to work towards advocacy for victims, and it was a role she apparently relished. Gizmodo said that during her interview with Larry King in 2004, she explained how Jackson stalked her for months prior to his attack.

“Well, what we didn’t know at the time is that he had been stalking me for 18 months,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about it. And in fact, for the week after I found out he had my address, I was very cautious and careful. But nothing happened.”

Theresa Saldana continued her advocacy work for victims until she died. In fact, it was due to support from Theresa Saldana and other victims of crime that two pieces of legislation — 1990’s anti-stalking law and 1994’s Driver’s Privacy Protection Act — were able to be enacted, according to the Hollywood Gossip.

Throughout her career, Theresa Saldana appeared in 37 different television shows, including Law & Order and MacGyver. She also took the part of Lenore in Raging Bull, the boxing movie for which Robert DeNiro garnered widespread acclaim.

While it is not yet known why Theresa Saldana passed at the relatively young age of 61, TMZ reports that the actress had been battling an undisclosed illness.

[Photo by Nick Ut/AP Images]