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Back To The Future Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

It's strange to think about how old certain pop culture touchstones have become. For instance, it's been more than four decades since "Star Wars," "Indiana Jones," and "Aliens" first premiered. There's now more distance in years between when "Back to the Future" premiered in 1985 and the current date than there was between 1985 and 1955, the year Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) is sent to in the DeLorean.

This doesn't mean "Back to the Future" is any less of a great movie, but it's become an accidental time capsule of 1985-era fashion, music, and aesthetics, even as it mocks and subverts the conventions of 1955 America. The puffy vest Marty wears can seem as ridiculous to a contemporary audience as ducktails surely appeared to viewers watching in 1985. The movie is now a part of the past it once criticized.

And because "Back to the Future" is now almost 40 years old, some actors from the film have since passed away. Here are the "Back to the Future" cast members whose obituaries you may have missed.

Elsa Raven as the Clocktower Lady

Elsa Raven has a small but critical role in "Back to the Future," playing the townsperson who urges Marty to save the clock tower from destruction — which he does, but in 1955, not 1985. When she died in November 2020 at age 91, Variety cited Raven's performance in the time-travel film as one of the highlights of her career.

But the actor had a career even before "Back to the Future," which went as far back as 1970's "The Honeymoon Killers." She filmed small roles in films like "The Amityville Horror" as Mrs. Townsend and "Titanic" as Ida Straus, though most of her scenes in the latter were cut. Raven also acted in shows such as "Family Ties," "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," "Seinfeld," and the ground-breaking drama "Wiseguy." Getting a regular role in "Days of Our Lives" in the '90s, then, must have felt like a great reward after so many small but vital performances. And she continued acting up until 2011, when she made her final appearance in "Answers to Nothing" as Mrs. Harrison.

Wendie Jo Sperber as Linda McFly

Before she played middle McFly child Linda in "Back to the Future" and "Back to the Future Part III," Wendie Jo Sperber had already collaborated with director Robert Zemeckis before for his 1978 debut feature "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" as well as 1980's "Used Cars."

A quirky screen presence, the young actor found many roles across film and television. Arguably her most famous role was as Amy Cassidy in the 1980 sitcom "Bosom Buddies." The only woman at the apartment who knows that Kip (Tom Hanks) and Henry (Peter Scolari) are pretending to be female, the bubbly Amy goes along with the scheme anyway — that is, until the series was axed by ABC after two seasons (via Collider). Later she'd co-star again alongside Hanks in the comedy "Bachelor Party."

Sperber co-starred in several short-lived TV shows, including "Babes" and "Hearts Afire," while continually landing strong, funny guest parts on shows like "Murphy Brown," "Will & Grace," and "American Dad!" until she died of breast cancer in 2005 (via The Los Angeles Times). Her "Bosom Buddies" castmate Telma Hopkins told the Times that "that's what [Sperber] had in common with Lucille Ball, Laverne and Shirley [Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams] and Nell Carter — that willingness to go the extra mile for the comedy no matter how it made you look."

George DiCenzo as Sam Baines

The 1955-era Sam Baines, Lorraine's grumpy father, was played by actor George DiCenzo. Until his death in 2010 (via Variety), DiCenzo had been in entertainment for 40 years. His most famous television part may be as prosecutor and author Vincent Bugliosi in the 1976 miniseries "Helter Skelter," but DiCenzo had appeared on the small screen as far back as 1970's "Dark Shadows." The actor wasn't at all a traditional leading man, but his gruff, weary face gave him real presence as a character actor.

Over the years, DiCenzo's guest parts on television included roles in shows as disparate as "The Waltons" and "NYPD Blue." He also racked up more than two dozen film credits as well, including "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," "Hotel," and "The Exorcist III." His final film before retiring for good was "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" in 2006. Although there have been more famous or critically acclaimed character actors, few knew how to lend gravitas to a scene quite like George DiCenzo.