I know I received a bunch of texts and calls last night after the news that Amanda Peterson, AKA Cindy Mancini from Can’t Buy Me Love passed away at the too early age of 43. Can’t Buy Me Love is one of my favorite films and Amanda was so good in the film.
Pinky has been a huge fan forever and did an amazing recap of her life, career and the impact that Amanda Peterson had on her growing up.
RIP Amanda Peterson!
The news came across my iPhone in the same way I receive most of my news these days – by Twitter. As I casually scrolled through my feed, I saw the iconic image of Amanda Peterson as Cindy Mancini. I’d recognize that image anywhere. My heart soared thinking the headline might read, “Amanda Peterson Signs New Deal” or “Amanda Peterson to Appear at a Convention” but instead it read, “‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ Star Amanda Peterson Dies at 43.” “DAMNIT!” I said out loud, to myself, to anyone, to the entire Universe, while inside my mind just went, “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Not Cindy Mancini!!!”
Yes, I realize Amanda Peterson wasn’t actually Cindy Mancini, but that character was so very iconic, especially to me, and I’ve always related to it in a special way.
Like most girls my age, I wanted to BE Cindy Mancini. Who wouldn’t want to be the popular cheerleader with the college boyfriend and perfect hair? Oh, and did I mention her amazing car? I had pictures of it pinned up on my wall until I actually got one when I was 19 (too late to drive it to high school, unfortunately, but awesome all the same).
Amanda Peterson had the unique ability to light up the screen with her effervescent smile – it was hard to look at anything else when she was on-screen. She embodied the role so well, in fact, that for years I’d been wanting to find her for a documentary I wanted to make about all of my very favorite stars from the ‘80s who seemed to vanish off the face of the earth.
Along with Amanda, my list included Michael Schoeffling (aka Jake Ryan), Mia Sara (from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Ilan Mitchell-Smith (from Weird Science), and Deborah Foreman (from Valley Girl). Thankfully, I’ve been able to meet Mia, Ilan, and Deborah since then (but I’m still waiting for my Michael Schoeffling adventure).
About four years ago I wrote a letter to Amanda to the last known address I could find telling her about my idea and desire to meet her. Sadly, I never heard back.
I keep trying to understand why this one hurts so much – aside from the obvious loss of someone far too soon, that is. I suppose it’s because when I look back over my teenage years, I never stopped trying to be Cindy Mancini. Not consciously, of course, but the photo evidence makes it pretty clear: Aside from the car,
I was a cheerleader,
and I’ve been growing my hair out pretty much forever to match her incredible mane (this seems to be the longest I can grow it).
Although my suede outfit wasn’t beige, I did have a pink AND a purple suede jacket (no fringe, though) and a matching pink suede skirt.
I even shared her fashion sense with silly sweaters.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that one of Amanda Peterson’s first roles was on Silver Spoons opposite my forever love, Ricky Schroder. Man, she got to have both McDreamy AND The Ricker as her love interests? She was the luckiest girl ever!
Amanda was living in Greeley, Colorado with her second husband and two children at the time of her death. My heart and thoughts go out to them at this difficult time. R.I.P. Amanda Peterson. May you be happily driving off on that lawn mower into the sunset forever. You’ll be missed.