POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – Actress Wendie Jo Sperber, who starred opposite Tom Hanks on TV's "Bosom Buddies" and who in his words became "a walking inspiration" after she contracted cancer, has died. She was in her 40s.
Sperber died at home Tuesday after an eight-year battle with breast cancer, publicist Jo-Ann Geffen said Wednesday.
A Los Angeles native, Sperber appeared in dozens of television shows and movies, including all three "Back to the Future" films.
Her publicist first said Sperber was 46, but later said she was 43 based on an Internet resource. The Associated Press in September reported Sperber's age as 47.
Sperber also had roles in Steven Spielberg's "1941," Robert Zemeckis' "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," and Neal Israel's "Moving Violations" and "Bachelor Party." Her television credits include "Murphy Brown," "Private Benjamin," "Will & Grace" and "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter."
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 1997, the actress became an advocate for cancer care. In 2001, she founded the weSPARK Cancer Support Center, which provides free emotional support, information and social activities for individuals and families affected by cancer.
Sperber helped unveil and promote a breast cancer stamp for the U.S. Postal Service in 1998, Geffen said.
"The memory of Wendie Jo is that of a walking inspiration," Hanks said in a statement. "She met the challenges of her illness with love, cheer, joy and altruism. We are going to miss her as surely as we are all better for knowing her."
Sperber is survived by a son and daughter, her parents, two sisters and a brother.