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Deborah Raffin dies at 59

Actress who ran audiobook company had roles in 'Forty Carats,' 'Noble House'

Deborah Raffin, an actress who ran a successful audiobook company with the help of her celebrity friends, has died. She was 59.

Raffin died Wednesday of leukemia at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, her brother, William, told the Los Angeles Times. She was diagnosed with the blood cancer about a year ago.

Raffin, the daughter of 20th Century Fox contract player Trudy Marshall, had roles in movies such as “Forty Carats” and “Once Is Not Enough.” She also starred in television miniseries, most notably playing actress Brooke Hayward in “Haywire” and a businesswoman in “Noble House,” based on the James Clavell saga set in Hong Kong.

She and her then-husband, music producer Michael Viner, launched Dove Books-on-Tape in the mid-1980s, which blossomed into a multimillion-dollar business. The company’s first best-seller was Stephen Hawking’s opus on the cosmos entitled “A Brief History of Time.”

Raffin’s job was getting celebrities to provide voices for some of the books. Among them were the nonfiction bestsellers “Anatomy of an Illness” and “The Healing Heart,” both by Norman Cousins and read by Jason Robards Jr. and William Conrad, respectively.

Raffin also compiled celebrities’ Christmas anecdotes for a 1990 book, “Sharing Christmas,” which raised money for groups serving the homeless. It included stories from Margaret Thatcher, Kermit the Frog and Mother Teresa.

Raffin and Viner sold the company in 1997 and the couple divorced eight years later. Viner died of cancer in 2009.

Raffin is survived by her two siblings, William and Judy Holston; and a daughter, Taylor Rose Viner.

Services are set for Sunday in Culver City.

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