‘Back to the Future’ Star Elsa Raven Played the Most Pivotal Character

Elsa Raven, best known for her role in the movie Back to the Future, died at the age of 91, USA Today reported Nov. 5. Confirmation came from Raven’s agent, David Shaul, who received word from Raven’s family Nov. 4. Raven frequently appeared at Back to the Future events, including the 2019 opening of an exhibit at the Hollywood Museum. She only appears in one scene, but she may make the whole movie possible. 

Elsa Raven’s one scene in ‘Back to the Future’

Raven plays the Clocktower Lady. In 1985, present day when they made Back to the Future, she is collecting donations to preserve the clock tower in the Hill Valley town square. The clock has been stuck at 10:04 since it was struck by lightning in 1955. 

Elsa Raven
Elsa Raven | Angela Weiss/Getty Images

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Clock Tower lady interrupts Marty Mcfly (Michael J. Fox) kissing his girlfriend Jennifer (Claudia Wells) to ask for a donation. She tells Marty the whole story and gives him a flyer, which will become important later. Marty gives her a quarter to make her go away. 

Elsa Raven got Marty ‘Back to the Future’

Marty finds himself in 1955 when Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) builds a time machine out of a De Lorean. Doc stole some plutonium to power the time machine, and the terrorists he stole from come after him. They shoot Doc, but Marty escapes in the De Lorean to 1955. 

Backc to the Future exhibit
L-R: Charles Fleischer, Ricky Dean Logan, Donelle Dadigan, Elsa Raven, Bob Gale, Don Fullilove and Darlene Vogel | Michael Tullberg/Getty Images

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Marty seeks help from 1955 Doc, but it’s going to take 1.21 gigawatts to power the time machine again, and he has no plutonium. Luckily, Marty kept the flyer which has the date of the lightning storm that struck the clock tower. Lightning generates 1.21 gigawatts so Doc figures out a way to funnel the lightning into the time machine at 10:04 PM on Nov. 12, 1955. Without that flyer and Clocktower Lady’s speech, Marty would’ve been stuck in the past.

Michael J. Fox remembers Elsa Raven

USA Today also reached out to Fox for comment on Raven. Fox enjoyed seeing Raven at Back to the Future conventions, where she brought a Save the Clock Tower collection can and copies of the flyer from the film.

Back to the Future Johnny B Goode
Michael J. Fox on guitar | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

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“It took me a long time to go to any of those Back to the Future conventions or Comic-Con conventions, and when I finally did go, she was there,” Fox told USA Today. “It was so great to see her, and she was walking through the crowd and saying, ‘Save the clock tower! Save the clock tower!’ “

Elsa Raven after ‘Back to the Future’

Raven’s first credits were in 1963 on General Hospital and Combat! She continued doing TV guest spots, including one on Fox’s sitcom Family Ties, until a 2008 episode of E/R. She had 77 film and television credits.

L-R: Claudia Wells and Elsa Raven | Angela Weiss/Getty Images

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In addition to Back to the Future, Raven’s film credits include Titanic, in which she played real life crash victim Ida Strauss. She played John Malkovich’s landlady in  In the Line of Fire,  Dick Balduzzi’s wife in Fatso and the realtor who sells the Lutzes the Amityville Horror house.