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Elsa Raven appears in Back to the Future for less than a minute, but her “Save the clock tower!” character stuck with the audience for a number of reasons. Not only did she deliver a critical piece of exposition, but Raven delivered it in such a way that was passionate and unforgettably honest.
Raven died Tuesday. She was 91.
Back to the Future screenwriter spoke with The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday, during which he recalled Raven as a true professional and a joy to be around.
“She was one of those A-list performers who could turn a small role into a memorable one,” Gale said. “Although she is on screen for probably less than a minute, everyone remembers her. And casting her is an example of director Bob Zemeckis’s philosophy that every role is important and can be made memorable.”
Gale continued, “Bob would never save money by hiring a cheaper performer in a small role, a lesson we learned on our first movie: a mediocre day player can ruin a film.”
In Back to the Future, Raven’s character approaches Marty McFly just as he is about to kiss his girlfriend, Jennifer, shoving a collection can in their faces for donations to save Hill Valley’s iconic clock tower, which was damaged 30 years prior during a severe lightning storm.
“Elsa communicates some key exposition in our movie which the audience needs to know, and it takes a great actress and a great director to make that come across in an entertaining way,” Gale said.
Along with Gale and a number of other cast members, Raven attended the opening of the Back to the Future Exhibit at the Hollywood Museum last December.
“Although she was in a wheelchair and had a caregiver, she delivered a very robust ‘Save the Clock Tower!’ for her many fans and the media,” Game reminisced. “She will always be remembered. Elsa, rest in peace, and my condolences to your many nieces and nephews.”
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