Amanda Peterson, ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ Star, Dies at 43

Amanda Peterson Dead
Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

Amanda Peterson, best known for her role in the romantic comedy “Can’t Buy Me Love” opposite Patrick Dempsey in 1987, died Sunday in Greeley, Colo. She was 43. According to the Associated Press, she was found alone at an apartment complex.

In the film, Peterson played cheerleader Cindy Mancini, whom Dempsey’s character pays to pose as his girlfriend so he can make social inroads at their Arizona high school. The movie, directed by Steve Rash and with a title taken from the Beatles song, is among a set of teen angst classics of the period along with the John Hughes oeuvre.

She also appeared in films including Joe Dante’s 1985 effort “Explorers,” “The Lawless Land” (1988) and “Listen to Me” (1989); her final screen credit was for the 1994 feature “Windrunner.”

Peterson also had TV credits, including the 1986 NBC miniseries “A Year in the Life,” which paved the way for a series of the same name in 1987-88 in which she appeared in all 22 episodes playing Sunny Sisk. She also guested on “Doogie Howser, M.D.,” and appeared in the telepics “Hell Hath No Fury” and  “Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories.”

Peterson was born in Greeley and made her first bigscreen appearance in John Huston’s adaptation of the musical “Annie” when she was nine.

She had long since retired from show business and had been twice married, the first time to Joseph Robert Skutvik.

She is survived by second husband David Hartley and two children.

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  1. Latesha Barvick says:

    Many thanks for the information we were trying to find this while we were scanning the internet as well as your site came up– Many thanks

  2. Buck says:

    Did Variety independently confirm that she was, indeed, married to David Hartley? I suspect the writers simply lifted that material from IMDB, where it’s resided for years. IMDB used to say she had children named Jonathan and Katie (we now know she had a daughter named Stella), and that Peterson and Hartley lived in Napa Valley.

    In other words, there’s plenty of bogus info on IMDB, and it seems Variety sourced some of its obit material there. It’s now being widely reported as being correct.

    Variety? What say you?

  3. Constance says:

    I loved her, she was beautiful. I loved the movie Cant buy me love. I always looked on the internet to see where I could find Amanda to send pic and letter to her, wanting her to know her fans always cared. My deepest prayers for her family.RIP

  4. Dave J. says:

    Although her passing was very unfortunate, the article seemed a little blatant for I didn’t know that a person can die from loneliness!

  5. Lar says:

    I co starred with Amanda in a film called Fatal Charm with Christopher Atkins and Mary Frann.She was very sweetened calm, lovely to work with .My condolences to her family and children.

    • Matt says:

      I remember the scenes of you two together in that film. Amanda gave a wonderful performance in it – one of her best acting performances.

  6. Jake says:

    I remember this movie like yesterday, although it’s probably been 20 years since I last saw it. Like most teen males at the time when this was out in the late-80s, I had such a crush on her. I wanted so bad to be Dempsey’s character on that rider lawn mower at the end where she jumps on with him…the exact same Snapper rider mower that I used to mow our yard during that era.

    What a beauty she was. Funny how when you get older how younger and younger these actors and actresses appear as stuck in a time zone and they seem almost like children (at 16 at the time of filming I guess she technically was a child). RIP…so sad to be gone so young. I need to find this movie and watch it again.

  7. liz says:

    sorry to hear of her death so young

  8. bob johnso says:

    Pity about her death…

  9. Our thought’s & prayers go out to Amanda’s family. May you find comfort in God & friends during this most difficult time of sorrow. May you cherish all her precious memories. Forever in your hearts, always in your memories…R.I.P Amanda!!! God must have needed one more angel

  10. Karen Nunes says:

    Thank You for Sharing your Talent … That was Awesome Time for all of Us….Thank You for those Wonderful Memories….RIP

  11. says:

    She was a part of my teen years and all those teen movies. Very sad for her to die so young.

  12. Maria Gusek says:

    Sleep Well, beautiful Lady

  13. Atomic Girl says:

    RIP Amanda! “Can’t Buy Me Love” is definitely one of my all-time favorite movies. You guys realize that it would be extremely moving to lead the parade of cars to her funeral/memorial with the hearse with Patrick Dempsey driving a riding lawn mower in front. How sweet and sad would that be?!

  14. Charlene says:

    Oh my god!….This is awful….I am so shocked and sadden. I loved her in Can’t buy me love…..She will be missed…Rest in Heaven…

  15. Christopher Crist says:

    This Is such a Tragedy. I am so Sorry for Your Loss. She Is & Was to Young to Die; though She’s In Heaven Now. Bless Her Always.

  16. R.I.P. Amanda…This is just so sad. Such a wonderful actress. And I’m sure a good person. My heartfelt condolences to family and friends.

  17. 80s kid says:

    I was 14 when Can’t Buy Me Love came out and I had a huge crush on Amanda Peterson. Her, Kristy Swanson, Kelly Preston and Lea Thompson were the stuff of dreams for every teen boy at that time. Sad news.

    p.s. And “A Year in the Life” was a great show. Is that available on VOD or DVD? I remember Richard Kyle’s Emmy speech about how the show was killed by “corporate myopia.” When’s the last time you heard something like that said about our industry at an awards show?

    • Bill B. says:

      A Year in the Life was a great Emmy winning mini-series that became a regular series that failed to find an audience. It’s been a long time, but I still remember how much I loved it and how sad I was when it ended after just one season. I too remember Kiley’s speech. It may be the angriest award acceptance speech I’ve ever heard. At the time it was on, I was in the midst of deciding a major move, but hadn’t decided where. This show literally may have changed my life as Seattle was not even in my thought process, but in 1987, it is where I moved to & lived for a decade. Still sorry I moved away, though it has become too big and too expensive now. Awesome city back then though.

  18. Jennie says:

    So sad

  19. Kelley hackney says:

    If she had a husband & kids why did it take so long for her body to be discovered?

  20. luis says:

    I’m very sadden and surprised by this, I really enjoyed watching can’t buy me love, its one of my favorite movies, I watch it every time its on, would like to own that movie, anyways rest in peace

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