Vanessa Marquez: ER actor shot dead after pointing replica gun at police

'She was looking forward to life. This is not a woman who wanted to die'

Tom Embury-Dennis
Saturday 01 September 2018 15:53
Vanessa Marquez appeared on the TV medical drama ER and starred in the film Stand and Deliver
Vanessa Marquez appeared on the TV medical drama ER and starred in the film Stand and Deliver

An actor who starred in US TV hospital drama ER has been shot dead after she pointed a replica handgun at officers, California police said.

Vanessa Marquez, who was in the news last year after accusing George Clooney of blacklisting her from Hollywood, died at a hospital following Thursday's shooting at her apartment in South Pasadena, just outside Los Angeles.

The 49-year-old, who also starred in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, was having a seizure when police arrived, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said on Friday. They were called by Marquez's landlord, who said the actor needed help.

Paramedics treated Marquez, who improved and began talking with three officers and a mental health clinician who spent an hour-and-a-half trying to talk her into getting medical help, lieutenant Joe Mendoza said.

But Marquez became uncooperative, appeared unable to care for herself and seemed to have mental health issues, he said.

At some point, Marquez got what turned out to be a BB gun and pointed it at the officers, Mr Mendoza said, prompting two of them to shoot.

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"It looked like a real gun," he said, adding that it's unclear where the gun was during her lengthy interaction with police.

The officers were wearing body cameras but footage will not be released for at least six months pending the investigation, Mr Mendoza said.

Terence Towles Canote, a close friend of Marquez's, said the actor was having health and financial problems, but that she showed no signs of depression or other mental troubles. She still talked about her dream of winning an Oscar one day and was hopeful for a career comeback, he said.

"She was looking forward to life," Mr Canote said. "This is not a woman who wanted to die."

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Marquez posted extensively on Facebook and elsewhere about her health problems, saying she was terminally ill and had seizures and celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that can damage the small intestine if gluten is ingested.

In 2014, she said in an online post that she had spent her life savings on doctors and hospitals who did not properly treat her and that she could not work or "do most basic everyday functions".

Marquez had a recurring role as a nurse on ER between 1994-97. She also appeared on episodes of Seinfeld, Melrose Place and Malcolm & Eddie, but her career largely fizzled out after ER.

Marquez gained attention last year after tweeting that Clooney helped blacklist her from Hollywood when she complained about sexual harassment and racist comments among their ER co-stars. Clooney said in a statement to US Weekly at the time that he was just an actor on the show and was unaware of any effort to blacklist her.

"If she was told I was involved in any decision about her career then she was lied to," he said. "The fact that I couldn't affect her career is only surpassed by the fact that I wouldn't."

In one of her social media posts, Marquez talked about being grateful to be a part of Stand and Deliver, a film about a math teacher who motivated struggling students at a tough East Los Angeles high school.

"If you're truly fortunate, you get to live your dream and do the work you were put on this earth to do," she wrote. "If you're really, really fortunate you do a film that makes history and affects the lives of millions of people ... It will live on long after we're gone."

Additional reporting by AP

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