Wendie Jo Sperber
Character actress Wendie Jo Sperber enjoyed a long, lucrative career in Hollywood--though not a star, she was a familiar very face. Her specialty was exuberance and hysteria, typified by her flying leap from the moving car in "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" (1978)--the better for her star-struck 1960s teenager to try to snag tickets to see the Beatles on Ed Sullivan. It also was the first feature film for director Robert Zemeckis, who later cast Sperber in his 1980 comedy "Used Cars" and his 1985 blockbuster "Back to the Future" (Sperber also appeared in 1989's Back to the Future, Part III). Steven Spielberg, who executive produced "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," enlisted Sperber in his big-budget comedy "1941" (1979), one of his few major failures. Sperber's other credits include "Corvette Summer" (1978), "Moving Violations" (1985) and "Stewardess School" (1986).
On television, Sperber costarred in the ABC sitcom "Bosom Buddies (1980-82) in which Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari played two men who dressed as women in order to rent an apartment in an girls-only building; Sperber played their neighbor Amy--the only one with insider knowledge of their charade. Sperber's character was hopelessly in love with Scolari's character. She later appeared in Hanks' 1984 big-screen comedy "Bachelor Party," an early stop during his ascent to film superstardom.
Sperber's enjoyed steady supporting and character work, including a stint on the television version of the film "Private Benjamin" (1981) and finally a lead in the 1990 Fox sitcom "Babes," about three not-thin sisters. The show lasted just one season, and she had a season long stint on the John Ritter-Markie Post sitcom "Hearts Afire" in 1992-1993. Even after she was diagnosed with cancer in 1997, Sperber continued to amass credits--from a 1998 episode of "Murphy Brown" dealing with its title character's own chemotherapy woes, to a role as a college professor in the comedy "Sorority Boys" (2002) to a recurring role on Ritter's 2002-05 ABC sitcom "8 Simple Rules." Sperber founded a cancer support center, weSPARK, in 2001 in Sherman Oaks, California--"SPARK" stands for "Support, Prevention, Acceptance, Recovery and Knowledge." She lost her eight-year battle with cancer at age 46 in 2005.