'7th Heaven' star Deborah Raffin dies of leukemia at 59

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Deborah Raffin in 2011.

Deborah Raffin, whose career acting in film and TV spanned three decades and included a memorable turn on the TV series "7th Heaven," has died. She was 59. 

Raffin's brother told the Los Angeles Times the actress passed away from leukemia at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles last Wednesday after being diagnosed with the blood cancer over a year ago.

Raffin broke into the business in the mid-'70s appearing in several Hollywood movies such as 1973's "40 Carats" starring Liv Ullmann and Gene Kelly and 1975's "Once Is Not Enough" with Kirk Douglas. By decade's end, the actress had starring roles in a slew of TV movies, among them 1979's "Haywire," in which she played the actress Brooke Hayward, and 1981's "Killing at Hell's Gate" with Robert Urich, as well as the lead in the 1988 TV miniseries "Noble House" opposite Pierce Brosnan.

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But to millennials, Raffin is probably best remembered for her recurring part as Aunt Julie on "7th Heaven," which ran on the WB and then the CW from 1996 to 2007.

The TV vet was also a successful entrepreneur, having launched an audiobook business with her ex-husband, movie producer Michael Viner. The couple divorced in 2005 but had one child together.

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Other notable credits include movies such as 1974's "The Dove" and 1985's "Death Wish 3 "as well as headlining the 1981 TV series "Foul Play" and more recently guest shots on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "ER" and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager."

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