Elsa Raven, 'Back to the Future' Actress, Dead at 91

Elsa Raven, the actress best known for her in Back to the Future, has died. Raven died at her Los Angeles-area home Tuesday at the age of 91. Her death, a cause of which was not announced, was confirmed by her agent David Shaul and first reported by Deadline.

Born Elsa Rabinowitz on Sept. 21, 1929, in Charleston, South Carolina, she chose Raven as her stage name. She began her acting career onstage in New York City before going on to appear in a number of Hollywood films, with her first big-screen role coming in 1970 with The Honeymoon Killers, where she played a matron. She went on to land several other roles, including as the realtor who sold the house in The Amityville Horror, John Malkovich's landlady in In the Line of Fire, Gertrude Stein in The Moderns, and a mother who lost her son in Fearless. One of her most memorable roles was in Back to the Future, a film in which she was seen shaking a donation box in front of Marty McFly and his girlfriend Jennifer as she advocated to "save the clock tower."

Raven also appeared in James Cameron's Titanic as Ida Strauss. Although most of her scenes were cut from the final version of the 1997 film, she can still be seen in the Celine Dion video for "My Heart Will Go On" as one half of the older couple who lie together in bed in the stateroom as water pours in and the ship sinks.

The actress also has a number of TV credits to her name, including a 1992 appearance on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and a 1994 role on Seinfeld. Her most notable roles, however, were as a maid named Inga in 17 episodes of Amen from 1988 and 1990 and as Carlotta Terranova, Vinnie's mother, from 1987 to 1990 in Wiseguy. She also starred as Lucille on Days of Our Lives and as Tugboat Tessie on General Hospital.


Raven's final credit came in 2011 when she played a character named Mrs. Harrison in the film Answers to Nothing. Her other credits include Murphy Brown, Everybody Loves Raymond and Chicago Hope, among many more.

The actress was a voting member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She is survived by her sister-in-law, Lynne Rabinowitz, and her 15 nieces and nephews.