The real-life woman portrayed by actress Barbara Hershey in 1984 movie The Natural has died.

Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who found fame after shooting and nearly killing baseball ace Eddie Waitkus, passed away on 29 December (12) from natural causes aged 83. Her death was confirmed by the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office in Illinois on Friday (15Mar13), according to the Associated Press.

Steinhagen's story dominated the headlines in 1949 when the overzealous fan lured Waitkus into her Chicago hotel room and shot him in the chest with a rifle.

The beloved sportsman survived the attack and decided not to press charges, but Steinhagen was subsequently committed to a mental hospital for three years.

She faded into obscurity shortly afterwards, although the incident was the inspiration for The Natural, a novel written by Bernard Malamud, which was later converted into a film, starring Robert Redford and Glenn Close.