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'The Natural' woman dies at 83; inspired book and 1984 movie



A Chicago woman who nearly killed a Cubs player back in 1949, thus inspiring the book and movie The Natural, has died at age 83, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In the 1984 movie, Barbara Hershey played the role of Harriet Bird, who nearly kills Roy Hobbs, played by the great Robert Redford. Bird is later discovered dead, and Hobbs takes years to return to the game.

In real life, the woman was Ruth Ann Steinhagen, and the player she almost shot to death was Eddie Waitkus. Steinhagen -- 19 at the time -- was sent to Kankakee State Hospital and was released in 1952 after three years of treatment. She never spoke publicly of the crime and lived in life in obscurity until her death was accidently discovered by the Tribune this week as reporters were looking through death records for another story.

[Last modified: Monday, March 18, 2013 12:21pm]


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