Reese Witherspoon Pays Tribute After Election Actress Jessica Campbell Announced Dead At 38

Some actors don’t build up incredibly long resumes, but they nonetheless impress in the few projects they starred in. Such was the case for Jessica Campbell, who scored attention for her role as Tammy Metzler in the 1999 black comedy Election, which starred Reese Witherspoon. Sadly, it’s been announced that Campbell recently passed away at the age of 38.

Taking to Twitter, Reese Witherspoon expressed condolences for Jessica Campbell’s passing with the following tweet:

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The news of Jessica Campbell’s passing was shared by her cousin, Sarah Wessling, who revealed that on December 29, 2020, Campbell “suddenly and unexpectedly passed away.” According to TMZ, Campbell’s family is still awaiting the results of her full autopsy from the Multnomah County Medical Examiner in Portland, Oregon. Campbell leaves behind a 10-year-old son named Oliver, and Wessling has set up a GoFundMe page to both providing for Oliver and paying for “cremation, memorial, and probate expenses.” At the time of this writing, over $24,000 has been raised.

Although Jessica Campbell made her on-screen debut in the 1992 TV movie In the Best Interest of Children, it was her role as Tammy Metzler in Election, based on the same-named book by Tom Perrotta, that scored her wide recognition. Tammy was one of the three students who ran for student body president, the other two being Reese Witherspoon’s Tracy Flick and Chris Klein’s Paul Metzler. Election also starred Matthew Broderick as civics teacher Jim McAllister, and the actor provided the following statement to THR about Campbell’s passing:

When I think of Jessica I remember a shy, incredibly sweet, very pink-cheeked teenager who liked to discuss with me what is best to order at Applebee’s. She was very dear and an extremely good actor. Heartbreaking news. My deepest sympathy to her son and the rest of her family.

After Election, Campell appeared in two episodes of the cult teen comedy series Freaks and Geeks and several other projects, but she retired from acting soon after. She then became a doctor, specifically working as a naturopathic clinic in her final days. As Sarah Wessling informed TMZ, on the day her cousin died, she had been seeing patients at her clinic and came home to visit with her mother and aunt. According to Wessling, Campbell went into the bathroom and never came out, with Campbell’s aunt discovering she’d collapsed on the floor.

While Jessica Campbell’s time in the movie and TV spheres wasn’t terribly long, clearly she left a memorable impact. It’s unfortunate that she died at such a young age, but it is heartwarming to see so many people come out to financially help out her family during this difficult time. This evidently includes director and producer Judd Apatow, as he’s listed as having donated $5,000 on the GoFundMe page.

We here at CinemaBlend offer our condolences to Jessica Campbell’s friends and family. If you enjoyed her performance in Election, feel free to sound off in the comments section.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore, Adam is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He started working for the site back in late 2014 writing exclusively comic book movie and TV-related articles, and along with branching out into other genres, he also made the jump to editing. Along with his writing and editing duties, as well as interviewing creative talent from time to time, he also oversees the assignment of movie-related features. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a degree in Journalism, and he’s been sourced numerous times on Wikipedia. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.