'Clerks' actress Lisa Spoonauer died after suffering from chronic illnesses, report says
Lisa Spoonauer, the former actress from Jackson known for her role in "Clerks," died after coping with chronic, degenerative illnesses for 10 years, according to a TMZ report.
Spoonauer, 44, who was born in Rahway and grew up in Freehold, died at home on Saturday. She played the character Caitlin Bree in the 1994 movie directed by Kevin Smith, who along with her fellow cast members, posted remembrances of her on social media Tuesday.
"You changed my life, Lisa," Smith posted on Instagram, calling Spoonauer "one of the chief architects" of the movie. He discovered her in 1992, at a Brookdale Community College acting class. She later left acting to become an event planner and restaurant manager.
Spoonauer is survived by her husband, Tom Caron, her daughter, Mia, and her stepson, Tyler. She was also briefly married to Jeff Anderson, her "Clerks" co-star, who played Randal Graves in the film.
The TMZ report cites sources close to Spoonauer's family, though they did not say what those illnesses were. The report said family, though acquainted with her many hospital visits and illnesses, "never suspected her condition was bad enough to kill her," and that she ultimately died of natural causes.
Spoonauer's family started a fundraiser in honor of Lisa on JustGiving.com for the Patient Advocate Foundation, which provides case management services and financial assistance to patients.
Contributions have so far totaled $2,980, exceeding the original $1,000 goal.
"Our sister Lisa, if she had gotten better, was going to devote the rest of her life to fighting for those with chronic illness who didn't have the strength or the resources to get the right answers and ultimately obtain the correct course of treatment for themselves," her brother, Mike Spoonauer, wrote on the page.
Director Kevin Smith Tweeted:
Devastated to report that #LisaSpoonauer, who played Caitlin in #clerks, has passed away. In 1992, I went looking for Lisa without knowing either who she was or the integral role she'd play in my life. I'd held a night of open auditions at the #firstavenueplayhouse (where we found @briancohalloran and @marilynghigliotti) but the perfect Caitlin Bree never walked through the door. So I popped into an acting class at Brookdale Community College and watched the students from the back. Lisa was easily the most natural and authentic voice in the room. She didn't sound like she was acting at all; she delivered scripted dialogue as if she was inventing her conversation in the moment, like people do in real life. Captivated, I approached Lisa cold in the parking lot after the class and said "This is gonna sound creepy but... Do you wanna be in a movie?" Fearlessly, she replied "Not if it's porn." I told her a bit about Clerks and gave her a copy of the script and my phone number. She called me a few days later and said "Well it's not porn, but everybody talks like it is. It's funny. I'll do it." A complete stranger at first, Lisa quickly became one of the most important people I'd ever meet when she joined Brian, #JeffAnderson, Marilyn, @jaymewes, @samosier, @davidkleinasc and me as one of the chief architects of my first film. We rehearsed for a month straight in the store after hours, where Lisa perfected Caitlin (and fell in love with Jeff). The first night of the shoot, Lisa had to maneuver her way through a seven minute scene with Brian in the video store, when Caitlin finally shows up in the movie. Lisa and Brian CRUSHED it in one long take that still remains one of my favorite scenes I've ever shot - not because it shows off any directorial flare (it doesn't) but because it exemplified how great the performers were since we never had to cut away from their 2-shot. But as strong an actress as she was, Lisa was an even more excellent Mother to her daughter Mia. Whenever we'd Facebook later in life, she'd gush about her baby girl proudly. My heart goes out to Tom, Mia and Lisa's family. Thank you for dreaming my dream with me. You changed my life, Lisa.