Deborah Raffin died at the age of 59, her brother confirmed. The actress had been diagnosed with blood cancer only a year ago and had been battling it ever since.
Raffin had a dual career in acting and producing audio books long before they became as popular as they are today. She and former husband Michael Viner founded Dove Books-on-Tape at their home and were soon recording such classics as "The Naked Face" by Sidney Sheldon and "A Brief History of Time" by Stephen Hawking.
"I've enjoy acting, but I've never been driven to just act. I've always had a desire to produce, to be in control of my own destiny, to be able to find material and develop it," she told the Riverside Press-Enterprise in 1996.
Raffin had roles in such hits as "40 Carats" and "God Told Me To," but many may remember her from her role as Aunt Julie Camden on "7th Heaven." She played an alcoholic who struggled to give up all alcohol and did so with the help of her brother, the minister. Julie then went on to have a happy marriage and two children and never touched alcohol again.
Throughout her career, Raffin was able to meet such celebrities as Burt Reynolds, Elliot Gould, Margaret Thatcher, and Mother Teresa. In order to get Mother Teresa's story for a collection, Raffin actually traveled to Calcutta to meet with the Nobel Prize winner.
Raffin and Viner divorced in 2005, and he died of cancer in 2009. The couple had one daughter, Taylor Rose Viner, and she survives both her parents. Her brother William and sister Judy Holston also survive Raffin and have planned services for Sunday afternoon.
Fans have reacted with much grief given the loss.
"Lovely lady – too young to die. RIP," tweeted actress Morgan Fairchild.
"Deborah Raffin who played Aunt Julie in #7thHeaven died yesterday of leukemia. R.I.P." added Jessica Biel News. Biel was a co-star on the hit series.