Last night brought the sad news that character actress Elsa Raven, best known to many film fans as being the women in Back to the Future that hopes to “Save The Clock Tower” in Hill Valley, had passed away at the age of 91. Though Raven had an extensive career that included roles in films like Twilight Zone: The Movie and the original version of The Amityville Horror, plus TV shows Seinfeld, 3rd Rock from the Sun, and Everybody Loves Raymond, Back to the Future remained her largest claim to fame. Following Raven's passing, series screenwriter Bob Gale opened up about his time working with her and what it meant to the late actress to be in the fan-favorite movie.
"She was one of those A-list performers who could turn a small role into a memorable one," Gale told The Hollywood Reporter. "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. 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."
As Gale said, Raven "communicates some key exposition" in the movie, delivering info to Marty and the audience about the city clock tower that will become the pivotal focal point of the film's third act and in getting him back home. Marty's interrupted in kissing his girlfriend by "Clocktower Lady" who's raising money for the "The Hill Valley Preservation Society" to combat efforts by Mayor Wilson to replace the clock. Their mission is to keep the clock exactly as it is. Marty donates a quarter.
Gale went on to talk about how Raven was among those from the cast and crew that attended the opening of at the Back to the Future Exhibit at the Hollywood Museum last year. The screenwriter revealed that even though Raven was in a wheelchair had a caregiver present, she still delivered her iconic line to the fans that were present. He added: "She will always be remembered. Elsa, rest in peace, and my condolences to your many nieces and nephews."
Raven's career on the big screen didn't start of end with Back to the Future however also appeared in James Cameron's Titanic. For the 1997 romantic drama, Raven took on the part of real-life figure Ida Straus, the wife of Isidor Straus, the co-owner of the Macy's department store, who both tragically died in the ship's sinking (and who fans will know as the couple that die in bed together in the movie).