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Amanda Peterson’s Ruinous Downfall from Nation-Wide Teen Idol to Arrests and Passing

Busayo Ogunjimi
Sep 05, 2021
02:20 A.M.
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In 2015, Amanda Peterson's body was found lifeless in her home. A promising actress during her childhood, the sad turn of events marked the end of a life that never lived up to expectations.


After Amanda Peterson was found dead in her home on July 3, 2015, her mother suspected sleep apnea might have contributed to her death.

However, when Amanda's autopsy and toxicology report was released months after her passing, it revealed the heartbreaking cause of the singer's death. Get to know more about Amanda's life and painful death.

Pictures of actress Amanda Peterson | Photo: Getty Images | twitter.com/TheInsider



Amanda was born in Greeley, Colorado. She was the youngest of three children of her parents. James Peterson, and Silvia Peterson. Amanda started acting as a child. When her career began, she used the name Mandy Peterson, the name her friends and family called her.

She made her stage debut when she was seven before starring in the musical film "Annie." She also got guest roles in "Silver Spoons" and "Father Murphy" and starred in over 50 TV commercials.

Amanda's first starring role was in the 1985 film "Explorers." After that, she co-starred as "Sunny Sisk" in the highly-rated and award-winning miniseries, "A Year in the Life." She won a Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress for her role in the miniseries.


Amanda Peterson stars as Abigail Baywood in the TV movie "Posing: Inspired by Three Real Stories" which aired on November 5, 1991 | Photo: Getty Images

At 15, Amanda starred in the teen comedy "Boy Rents Girl." Actor Patrick Dempsey also starred in the film. Later, the title of "Boy Rents Girl" was changed to "Can't Buy Me Love."


It received mixed reviews after its release in 1987 but became a hit, making Amanda and Dempsey become teen idols. The pair appeared on the covers of teen magazines like Teen Beat and Tiger Beat.


In 1988, Amanda co-starred in the post-apocalyptic movie "The Lawless Land," produced by Roger Corman. A year after, she starred in the teen drama "Listen to Me."

Amanda Peterson attends the premiere of "Listen To Me" on May 3, 1989 at the Academy Theater in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images


Later in 1989, Amanda headed back to her hometown, Greeley. She graduated from high school and bagged a role in the TV film "Fatal Charm" in 1990 - the same year she enrolled at Middlebury College in the Fall.

During a semester break, she guest-starred in the movie "Doogie Howser M.D." Amanda later dropped out of college that year and returned to acting. Her final on-screen role came in 1994 when she starred in "Windrunner," a fantasy film that also starred Jason Wilson.


Amanda retired from acting in 1994 and then returned to Greeley. Her dad revealed she left the entertainment industry to chart a new course of life. The actress then enrolled at Colorado State University for a year and later studied at the University of Northern Colorado.


Amanda Peterson sighted on August 8, 1988 at Ed Debevic's Restaraunt in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images

The deceased actress married twice and had two kids. Her first marriage was to Joseph Robert Skutvik, while her second marriage was to David Hartley. Amanda slumped to new lows in the latter part of her life and was arrested five times between October 2000 and May 2012.


Some of the offenses she was arrested for included harassment, DUI, possession of drug paraphernalia, third-degree assault. She was also arrested on suspicion of distributing a Schedule 2 controlled substance.

She spent about three months in jail from September to December 2005. In April 2012, she was arrested for the last time over a misdemeanor DUI and possession of narcotics equipment charge. A suspected drug abuse charge against her in May 2012 was dropped.

Amanda Peterson attends the premiere of "Cry Freedom" on November 5, 1987 at the Cineplex Odeon Cinema in Century City, California | Photo: Getty Images


In 2012, Amanda modeled for a Colorado photographer, Eric Hartsock. The motorcycle-chic photoshoot took place in Greeley and saw her wearing knee-high leather boots and a tank top.

She also tied a bandana around her ponytail hair and posed in an antique car and on the back of a motorcycle. One snapshot also showed her with a snake around her neck. Unfortunately, it turned out to be her last photoshoot.


On July 3, 2015, Amanda was found lifeless in her home. Before her death, there had been talks of a comeback. She was even writing her autobiography and had a story to tell.


Amanda Peterson attends U2 Concert Party on November 21, 1987 at Jane Fonda's home in Malibu, California | Photo: Getty Images

The life and sudden death of the Colorado teen star took everyone by surprise. In a chat with ET, her mom recalled their last day together, revealing she was in good spirits.


Sylvia said that despite Amanda's troubled past and history with drugs, she had been clean for a long time. Therefore, she felt her death was not due to drugs. She added that her daughter suffered from depression and sleep apnea but did not have any major heart problems as far as she knew.

However, an autopsy and toxicology report released on Wednesday, September 3, 2015, revealed Amanda died from an accidental morphine overdose. The report concluded that she ingested a friend's morphine medication for an unspecified pain a week before her death.

Doctors did not find any morphine prescriptions for Amanda though they saw she had been prescribed several lung and heart disease medications. She was also prescribed Gabapentin for a hysterectomy she had.


Amanda Peterson as Sunny Sisk in an episode of the TV show "A YEAR IN THE LIFE" which aired on September 23, 1987 | Photo: Getty Images

Although high levels of Gabapentin were found in her body, the coroner's office concluded that Amanda's death resulted from respiratory depression due to a morphine overdose.


After Amanda's passing, many tributes poured in from those who had worked with her. Hartsock, who worked with her on her last photoshoot, said she was kind-hearted and had the greatest smile.

Meanwhile, Dempsey said Amanda would always be vibrant and young in his memory. He also agreed she left the world too soon and sent prayers to her family. So many other tributes poured in for the beloved Amanda, whose painful death still hurts.


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