The Sad Discovery Made In Poltergeist Star Heather O'Rourke's Autopsy Report

Heather O' Rourke in Poltergeist

For a lot of Generation X kids, the 1982 movie " Poltergeist " was an introduction to horror films. The idea that a mischievous supernatural entity could communicate with a child through a snowy television and ultimately pull her inside somehow, into an invisible world, gave every kid pause. The movie also related the notion that a tree outside your window could get you, or the toy clown in your room could be controlled by a demonic spirit. It was enough to ensure the companies that made nightlights back then were going to stay afloat. 

A lot of things stand out about Steven Spielberg's classic film, "Poltergeist," but one of the most integral to the story is that of the character Carol Anne Freeling, the little girl who was coveted by the scary spiritual entity in the family's home. She was played by a cherubic Heather O'Rourke, who also starred in two more Poltergeist sequels.  

It was Carol Anne sitting in front of the static-laden television, telling her family, "They're heeeeerrre," — Carol Anne's long platinum blonde hair coming out from under a football helmet as an invisible force slid her across the kitchen floor — Carol Anne, or rather, O'Rourke's voice calling for her mommy from the beyond — finding the strength to go into the light to get back to her family. 

But in real life, O'Rourke did not get a scripted happy ending. Six years after the first Poltergeist came out, she died at only 12 years old. 

Heather O'Rourke had an undiagnosed birth defect

According to Heather O'Rourke's death certificate , she died from a tragic combination of an acute bowel obstruction, suspected septic shock, and cardio-respiratory arrest on February 1, 1988, just a few weeks after her 12th birthday. The Associated Press reported three days after she died that one doctor said the young actress' sudden death was "distinctly unusual," because the issue that caused the bowel obstruction was believed to have been a birth defect which would cause nausea, vomiting and severe abdominal pain, but said O'Rourke never experienced those symptoms. Yet that seems unlikely because according to Biography , O'Rourke was misdiagnosed with Crohn's Disease in 1987. 

Regardless, O'Rourke died at Children's Hospital in San Diego after 36 hours with the bowel obstruction, six hours of septic shock, and 30 minutes in cardio-respiratory arrest, per the death certificate. O'Rourke's manager told the AP, ″It's weird. She was completely healthy Saturday, they thought she had the flu on Sunday, and she was dead on Monday.″

In May of 198,  The Los Angeles Times reported that O'Rourke's mother filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her daughter's doctors for misdiagnosing O'Rourke, whose real cause of death was only discovered after she died. According to The Los Angeles Business Journal , O'Rourke died from Intestinal Stenosis, which she was born with, but which could have been treated with surgery if only they had known, likely saving the girl's life. The lawsuit was settled out of court.

Mysterious death of 80s childstar Heather O'Rourke and the 'Hollywood curse' surrounding it

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Child actress Heather O'Rourke died in 1988. Photo / Supplied

A 1980s classic became known as Hollywood's most "cursed" film following the untimely death of a 12-year-old actress.

Not only is Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist regarded as one of the most terrifying horror films of all time, it's also known as the most "cursed" film in Hollywood.

Shrouded in superstition following a handful of mysterious cast deaths, the 1982 film's grim history has followed it through decades – even casting fear over the critically reviled 2015 remake.

Heather O'Rourke died suddenly after filming the third instalment of the Poltergeist franchise. Photo / News Corp Australia

The "Poltergeist curse", as it's become known, came about after four of the cast members died of mysterious circumstances – the most shocking being that of Heather O'Rourke – the cherubic 12-year-old childstar who played protagonist Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist films, as well as Heather Pfister in Happy Days.

THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY

Set in a house built on an ancient Native American burial ground, the original Poltergeist trilogy told the terrifying story of the Freeling family and their encounters with the supernatural.

Gifted with a connection to the spiritual world, the youngest daughter, Carol Anne (O'Rourke), was haunted by the malicious spirits buried beneath her home, including that of a sadistic doomsday cult leader named Kane.

Heather O'Rourke played a child harassed by evil spirits in Poltergeist. Photo / Getty Images

It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982 and was a commercial success, grossing $1.13 million in the United States, making it the highest-grossing horror film of 1982 and eighth overall for the year.

The film's special effects – inventive for its era – makes it frequently ranked among the greatest horror films of all time.

BEGINNINGS OF "THE CURSE"

Many believe the "Poltergeist Curse" began the same year the first movie was released.

Actress Dominique Young, who made her film debut in Poltergeist as the elder sister of Carol Anne, died a violent death shortly after its release in 1983.

She was strangled to death by her boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney.

According to a New York Times article, Young was put on life support after the attack but passed away five days later.

Sweeney was later found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, according to a 1983 article from The Freelance Star.

JULIAN BECK

It was the actor who played Carol Anne's most intimidating spirit, doomsday cult leader Kane, who died next.

Julian Beck, who played Kane in Poltergeist II sadly did not live to see the release of the sequel.

He was 60 when he lost a battle with stomach cancer on September 14, 1985, according to The New York Times.

WILL SAMPSON

The third in the spooky string of deaths associated with the film was of the man who portrayed a friendly ghost named Taylor in the second Polergeist film, Will Sampson.

Sampson died on June 3, 1987, aged 53, after of an illness caused by a chronic degenerative condition, according to The Herald Journal.

HEATHER O'ROURKE'S DEATH

It was the unexpected nature of Heather O'Rourke's death which led many to believe the "Poltergeist Curse" was real.

Known for adorable, blue-eyed angelic looks and her creepy delivery of the line; "They're here" in the first film of the series, it was largely O'Rourke's chilling performance that made the film iconic.

At 12 years old, she passed away suddenly.

The actress died in surgery when doctors were attempting to repair an acute bowel obstruction, caused by what was believed to be a long battle with Crohn's disease, the LA Times reported.

The young address was tragically pronounced dead after suffering septic shock, on February 1, 1988.

Heather O'Rourke rose to fame in the first film of the Poltergeist trilogy. Photo / Supplied

HOW THE "CURSE" AFFECTED THE 2015 REMAKE

When Poltergeist was rebooted in 2015, superstitious film buffs were quick to unearth rumours of the "curse" surrounding the film.

Starring Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, the movie may have been widely panned, but no cast members died.

In a Reddit AMA, however, director Gil Kenan recalled "paranormal activity" during filming.

"Lights that could turn on anywhere else in the neighbourhood would blow out the second you'd try to light them on (the set)," Kenan wrote.

"Also, I used a lot of aerial drone photography in the film, and the drone pilots were never able to lock in the GPS signal in this field. We would have to move 10 feet away to launch the craft."

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What Really Happened During the Making of Poltergeist

poltergeist actress heather orourke

By Anthony Breznican

Poltergeist

Poltergeist is still haunting, even after 40 years. The movie about a family menaced by malevolent spirits in their cookie-cutter suburban home plays like a list of collective nightmares: The cackling clown doll that comes to life. The closet that’s actually a portal to another world. The monstrous tree that rips through a bedroom window. And the angelic little girl, pressing her hands against a whispering, static-filled TV screen and calling out to her slumbering household: “Theyyyy’re heeeere…”

Then there is the swimming pool—an open pit the family is just beginning to excavate in their backyard. This is where the source of ghostly rage is finally revealed during the stormy climax, as the bodies of those who were buried beneath the property when it was a graveyard rise up around the mother, played by JoBeth Williams, who has slipped and fallen into the murky runoff.

Long after filming this sequence, the actor learned an unsettling truth. “I always assumed that the skeletons were made by the prop department,” Williams tells Vanity Fair. “A few years later, I ran into one of the special effects guys, and I said, ‘You guys making all those skeletons, that must have been really amazing.’ He said, ‘Oh, we didn’t make them, those were real.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yeah, they were real skeletons.’”

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JoBeth Williams (left) and costar.

Even now, her voice catches a little. “I don’t know where they were bought from, but that really grossed me out,” she says. “I’m glad I didn’t know that then, because I would’ve really been screaming a lot—for real.”

To commemorate its four-decade anniversary, Poltergeist has been restored and released for the first time in 4K Ultra HD , and Williams and Craig T. Nelson —who starred as the besieged parents—agreed to exclusive new interviews to revisit the memories, controversies, tragedies, and legacy of one of the most popular scary movies of all time.

Both Williams and Nelson were still relative newcomers back in 1982, when the film was released. Williams had been on the soap opera Guiding Light and appeared in a handful of movies, among them Kramer vs. Kramer and Stir Crazy, which also featured Nelson in a small role. He had been a Groundlings performer and comedy writer with supporting turns in …And Justice for All and Private Benjamin.

Poltergeist was an altogether different entity for both of them—a big-budget scary crowdpleaser packed with state-of-the-art stunts and visual effects. It was all overseen by Steven Spielberg , also early in his career, but already recognized as a trailblazer.

“At the time, it was huge,” Nelson recalls. “At MGM, we had three or four different stages, and the pool. You had these enormous sets and you had this kind of story that may or may not make sense—depending on how they did it.”

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Craig T. Nelson, holding the tether to his wife and daughter.

The Authorship Question

Poltergeist was credited to Texas Chainsaw Massacre director Tobe Hooper, but by now it’s common knowledge that Spielberg was, so to speak, a ghost director.

“It was so exciting to work on a movie that Spielberg was involved in, and he was very, very actively involved,” Williams says. “I mean, it was his story idea and he helped write it.”

Initially, Spielberg wanted Stephen King to cowrite the Poltergeist screenplay, but the author didn’t respond. ( King has said he was “on a ship going across the Atlantic” when the offer came in, and didn’t get the message in time). Hooper also had King bona fides, having directed the acclaimed TV miniseries based on his vampire novel Salem’s Lot, and with Spielberg working simultaneously on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, he handed over the director’s title on Poltergeist to Hooper. Spielberg would still oversee the film as a producer, but the stars admit it was a collaboration between the two filmmakers.

“He was taking more of a hands-on approach,” Nelson says of Spielberg. “But it was always from a very creative collaboration. There was no tension on the set in that regard. It was determining how you were going to shoot things that had never been done before.”

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JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and Zelda Rubinstein as the psychic Tangina Barrons.

When Poltergeist debuted, just a week before E.T. , Spielberg published a letter to Hooper in The Hollywood Reporter to publicly credit him for his work, thanking him for allowing a “unique, creative relationship” and for his “openness.” 

Still, the notion that it was more of Spielberg film than a Hooper one has persisted. Not only does the finished movie feel like a classic Amblin picture, due in part to Spielberg’s longtime editor, Michael Kahn, cutting it together, but Hooper never made another film that had the same tone, even though the pair would collaborate again on a 1987 episode of the TV series Amazing Stories and the 2002 alien saga Taken. (Hooper died in 2017 at the age of 74.)

“I think, in his heart of hearts, he would’ve loved to have directed it,” Williams says of Spielberg. “He was always there. And Tobe was not as experienced as Steven was. He very much listened to Steven’s ideas about things, because it was Steven’s movie, really. And I’m sure there were times when it drove Tobe crazy to have Steven so actively involved, but he never let on. They were both kind of there on the set. Tobe would give direction, sometimes Steven would add to that or give other direction, but I think it’s fair to say that it was sort of a combo of the two of them, because certainly Steven was actively involved.”

The Dead Pool

Williams played Diane Freeling, a stay-at-home mom who holds everything together, even in the best of times. The children included moody high schooler Dana (Dominique Dunne), scrappy little boy Robbie ( Oliver Robins ) and sweet-as-pie preschooler Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke.)

Nelson was the tough but tender man of the house, a real estate agent whose company built their home, as well as all the others in the neighborhood. It’s implied that that’s why the spirits of those buried on the grounds torment the Freelings. As Nelson’s character shouts at his boss in the final scene: “You son of a bitch, you left the bodies and you only moved the headstones!”

“I hadn’t read that many movie scripts,” Williams says now. “I loved the story. I loved the family connection. And when it came to descriptions of the effects and that kind of stuff, I just skimmed over that. There was this one line that says: ‘Diane falls into muddy swimming pool with skeletons.’ And I just passed over that. I didn’t even notice it.”

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JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson’s characters save their son Robbie (Oliver Robins)

Then one day she found herself in an MGM soundstage doused with rain, soaked with mud, and tangled up with actual human skeletons. Decades before at the same studio, Esther Williams epitomized glamour as the graceful beauty who led teams of synchronized swimmers in kaleidoscopic water dances. JoBeth Williams (no relation) thought of that as she slid and slipped repeatedly into the muck.

“It was awful. First of all, they made the mud with peat. And peat begins to really stink after about a day, it begins to smell like dog poop. And so it was really icky to be in it,” she says.

“I ended up in that pool, oh, yeah,” Nelson adds. “There were the cadavers floating in there and strange things, amoebas. I mean, stuff had fallen in there.”

“I’d have to scream, and I’d think, Oh, God, I don’t want to get this water in my mouth because I’m sure I’ll get terrible diseases,” Williams says.

Don’t Go Into the Light (Or the Giant Fans)

Neither Williams nor Nelson spoke about eerie feelings or supernatural happenings on the set. They were more unsettled by tangible dangers, like the array of electricity that rimmed the pool full of corpses.

“It was of course surrounded by lights and surrounded by giant fans called Ritters , which are about 16 feet in diameter,” Williams says. “When I first had to get into the pool, I was very scared because I’m nervous about electricity and water. And I just had this image of one of those fans or the lights falling into it and being electrocuted. I told Steven that I was scared to do it and he said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll get in with you.’ He put on waders and he said, “First of all, it’s all grounded, so it couldn’t electrocute you.’”

It did manage to calm her down, so she could focus on freaking out about supernatural terrors. “He stood in that water for the first few takes that I did,” Williams says. “And I thought that was very sweet of him.”

Image may contain Face Human Person and JoBeth Williams

JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling in Poltergeist.

Nelson’s primary worry was a scene in which he had to rescue their son from a knotted old tree that comes to life and tries to swallow him.

“It was terrible. They made this tree and they put thorns in it—it was crazy,” he says. “It was a rubber tree, but at the same time you’re climbing up there, and you’re going, Why? Did the tree really need to have thorns on it? I mean, couldn’t you have done it with nice little pillow things when you crawl up, and they look like [thorns]?”

He remembers asking a lot of strange questions on the Poltergeist set, like during a scene in which a fresh steak appears suddenly to be rotten. “I remember asking the prop guys a lot of things. ‘Where did you get maggots? Where do you order maggots from? Is that something that’s on your truck all the time?’”

The Parents’ Secret Stash

Diane and Steve Freeling were a modern couple despite living what now looks like a retro-traditional life. Ozzie and Harriet of the early ’80s, but less self-assured. They were parents with passions and insecurities, and Poltergeist devotes much of its first act to making the family relatable before turning their lives upside down, sometimes literally. 

“You’re going from that kind of sublime, upper-middle-class living, having a family that’s fairly stable, raised in an area that’s nice, to the horror that you’re going to experience later on,” Nelson says.

In the movie, Steve and Diane are still in love, respectful but playful with one another, and secretly smoke marijuana together in their bedroom after the children are tucked in—a scene that scandalized generations of kid viewers who had no idea moms and dads did such things. A lot of that bedroom playfulness was improvised.

“Craig was a comedy writer at one time. In fact, I think he did stand-up too in his early days. But he’s very funny, and so Tobe and Steven would just let us run with things,” Williams says. One of her favorite bits was a shirtless Nelson, pooching out his belly and then sucking it back in as he stands before a full-length mirror saying, “Before, after…before, after…”

“Craig got into that whole thing, doing that with his stomach, which of course had me in genuine hysterics,” Williams says. “And I think we really began to feel like we were stoned after a while.”

“We weren’t by the way,” she quickly adds.

Nelson explains that not-so-special effect. “We rolled up those joints of oregano and tried to get them lit and puff away,” Nelson says.

For those keeping score: The skeletons were real, but the weed was not.

Image may contain Light Flare Human Person Lighting and Sunlight

Craig T. Nelson outside the Freeling home as vengeful spirits prepare to destroy it.

The Weird Neighbor Interaction

Williams acknowledged that the Freelings getting high on their own supply could be interpreted as an explanation for one of Poltergeist ’s more inexplicably offbeat moments. It happens early in the film, when the Freelings can no longer deny something supernatural is happening in their home and visit their befuddled neighbor to ask if anything similar has occurred there. Steve and Diane snicker and giggle throughout the exchange, which raises the question—did they partake to calm their nerves before going next door?

“No, I think it was just the absurdity of what we were going through, because what we were saying was basically insane,” Williams says, before changing course. “And I think, yes, maybe we were a little stoned. I don’t know, we didn’t plan that! But it could have easily read that way.”

She says their stifled laughter was actually real. They couldn’t stop laughing after Spielberg told them to pantomime that bugs were pestering them during the nighttime scene. “Steven said, ‘Well, there are probably some mosquitoes,’ so then we got into slapping the mosquitoes and we were genuinely hysterical,” Williams says.

The Downside of Being Upside Down

One of the most physically demanding scenes for Williams was when her character is thrown up against the ceiling of her bedroom and tossed around by invisible forces. To accomplish this, a replica of the Freeling bedroom was built on a massive gimbal, and she rolled along the walls and ceiling like a sock in an empty clothes drier. The camera and its operator were strapped to the “floor” and would be shooting upside down while gravity played havoc with the actor.

That created the illusion that she was actually weightless. But it was punishing to shoot. “Let’s just say the charm wore off after about 12 takes,” Williams says.

JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling thrown against the ceiling of her bedroom in Poltergeist.

JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling, thrown against the ceiling of her bedroom in Poltergeist.

“I had to be on a 360-degree turning set, which I had never even heard of. And when they said, ‘You’re going to just ride this thing and slide along the ceiling,’ I went, ‘Okay, I see.’ What they didn’t say was that I’d be doing 50 takes of it and by the end, my elbows and knees were bleeding,” she recalls.

The scene happens at a point when her character is most relaxed, and most vulnerable. She has just taken a soothing bath, and is wearing little more than a baggy sleeping T-shirt. So, there was no way to hide padding.

“And the poor cameraman who had to ride the thing like a Ferris wheel…” she adds. “He was strapped in, and several times, he had to get off and go throw up because it was literally making him physically sick, but he carried on. And when I got off after a few takes, I said, ‘Steven, I’m bleeding. My elbows and knees are bleeding!’ And he said, ‘That’s all right. We can just wipe the blood off. It’ll never show.’ And I said, ‘Oh, I feel much better now. Thank you.’ I had to laugh.”

The Lost Children

Although this didn’t happen during the making of Poltergeist, it’s difficult to watch the movie now without thinking of the untimely deaths of two of the actors who played the Freeling children. Dominique Dunne, who was 22, was killed by her ex-boyfriend in the fall of 1982, just a few months after the film’s debut. And Heather O’Rourke, who was five during the making of Poltergeist, died unexpectedly in 1988 at the age of 12 from intestinal disorder.

“Heather was just a sweetheart and shy and beautiful. She was just this wonderful little girl, and she was perfect for the role, perfect for just who she was in her innocence,” Nelson says. “Dominique was basically a kid who was doing a big movie and had a life of her own. Everybody, in reality, just had a good time.”

Image may contain Human Person JoBeth Williams Dance Pose Leisure Activities Craig T. Nelson and Richard Lawson

From left: Dominique Dunne, JoBeth Williams, Craig T. Nelson, and Oliver Robins as the Freelings, with Beatrice Straight and Richard Lawson as paranormal investigators.

“She was so sweet and easy to work with. And she just took my hand the first day and held on to me for the rest of the time,” Williams says of O’Rourke. “And if I would cry, she would cry. If I would scream, she would scream. Here’s this little five-year-old girl who has this innate empathy. She was truly a gifted little actress.”

Williams says the playacting she and Nelson did together often extended to the young actors. “They would have us improvise with the kids at the table when we were having a family scene,” she says. “Before they’d start rolling, the four of us, or five of us, whoever was there, would all improvise with each other and Craig and I would get the kids involved in it. By the time they rolled the camera, we were very comfortable with each other and playful and having fun, which was one of the things that I really loved about the way we worked on that movie.”

“Dominique was a doll, and she was always complaining about the fact that she was having to play 16 and she was really 21,” Williams added. “It just felt silly to her. And then she did the scene where she had the big hickey on her neck [in the final scene, when she comes home from a date and sees her home being destroyed]. We all thought that was hilarious. That, I think was Steven’s idea. And she was just delightful, a delightful young woman. We were all just stunned when she was killed. That was really a horrifying thing.”

In 1983, Dunne’s killer, John Sweeney, was acquitted of second-degree murder and convicted on the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, which Dunne’s family considered an affront . Her father, frequent Vanity Fair contributor Dominick Dunne, became a champion for victims’ rights , and chronicled her killer’s trial f or the magazine.

O’Rourke went on to appear in Poltergeist II in 1986, and had already shot Poltergeist III in 1987 before her sudden illness and death. The third movie was released posthumously. Her mother, Kathleen O’Rourke Peele, later sued her daughter’s doctors , saying they had misdiagnosed the birth defect of her severe bowel obstruction as Crohn’s disease before her death. The lawsuit was settled out of court. 

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Craig T. Nelson as Steve Freeling, Heather O’Rourke as Carol Anne, and JoBeth Williams as Diane Freeling.

“I think because these two were both so young, it was so shocking,” Williams says now of Dunne and O’Rourke. “Heather’s loss was just staggering. And her mother, Kathy, called me actually right after we all got the news, and she was at a loss.”

Williams says O’Rourke’s family was grappling with how they could be unaware she had such a life-threatening medical condition. It brought them back to something Williams had shared during the making of Poltergeist about Heather’s resilience. “I had said to her mother, to Kathy, ‘Heather is such a trooper,’ because we did that whole scene with where we were supposed to have fallen through the ceiling and were covered in goop, and it was freezing and we were incredibly cold. She’d never complained. I said, ‘Kathy, she’s amazing.’”

“And then Kathy called me and said, ‘I was thinking about that because Heather had these stomach cramps for a few days before, but she didn’t complain about it.’” Williams recalls Kathleen telling her that “[Heather] didn’t say, ‘I’ve got this really bad pain.’ She would maybe say, ‘Oh, my tummy hurts a little, or something.’” She adds, “So they didn’t know until it was too late. That was awful.”

The Years After…

Despite those tragic losses, Poltergeist remains an enduring testament to the work of all involved. Not only was it a box-office hit, but kids of the ’80s remember it playing nearly nonstop on HBO. It’s a movie generations have watched over and over again, and can often quote verbatim. Almost everyone has a Poltergeist memory—watching it on TV, watching it at a sleepover, watching it between your fingers. Some parents denounced it as too frightening at the time, but kids loved it. Maybe they loved it more because of that.

“I got so much fan mail from children, and I have several people who are now my friends, who are obviously younger than I am, who said, ‘You were the mom that I always wanted. You were supermom to me because you went into the unknown to save your kid,’” Williams says. “I got all this fan mail from kids all over the world saying, ‘You’re such a great mommy,’ because I fought for my child.”

Image may contain Human Person JoBeth Williams and Face

Years later, she also became one of those people who were eager to pass Poltergeist on to her own children, when they were growing up in the ’90s and early 2000s. “When it came out and parents were saying, ‘Oh, our kids are so scared, and it’s too scary for kids,’ there was all this sort of hoopla. So I said to my kids, ‘I did this movie Poltergeist. You’re going to hear about it, but I think you’re a little young to see it,’” Williams says. “So finally when they were maybe 10 and 13, I said, ‘Okay, I think it’s okay for you guys to see it now.’ And they both said, ‘Oh, mom, we watched that at a friend’s house years ago.’ They said it wasn’t that scary.”

The legacy of Poltergeist and the decades-long love for it stands as a kind of vindication for Williams—satisfaction for the banged-up elbows in the rotating bedroom and her nauseating plunge into that dreaded pool. She remembers taking a break during that sequence, “being pulled out at lunchtime and hosed down, literally hosed down and put in the back of a pickup truck” so they could be driven back to their trailers on the MGM lot.

“I turned to Craig and I said, ‘So this is the glamorous showbiz that I’ve always heard about!’ And that pretty much summed it up,” Williams says. “We kept looking at each other going, ‘Do you think this will just show in drive-ins for the rest of our lives? Or do you think it’ll actually be a movie anyone will want to see?’ And we didn’t know.”

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Heather O'Rourke

Heather O'Rourke

  • Born December 27 , 1975 · San Diego, California, USA
  • Died February 1 , 1988 · San Diego, California, USA (cardiopulmonary arrest and intestinal stenosis)
  • Birth name Heather Michele O'Rourke
  • Height 4′ 8″ (1.42 m)
  • Heather Michele O'Rourke was born on December 27, 1975 in Santee, San Diego, California, to Kathleen, a seamstress, and Michael O'Rourke, a construction worker. She had German, Danish, English, and Irish ancestry. Heather entered American cinematic pop-culture before first grade. She was sitting alone in the MGM Commissary waiting for her mother when a stranger approached her asking her name. "My name is Heather O'Rourke," she said. "But you're a stranger, and I can't talk to you". When her mother returned, the stranger introduced himself as Steven Spielberg . She failed her first audition when she laughed at a stuffed animal Spielberg presented her with. He thought she was just too young (she had just turned five), and he was actually looking for a girl at least 6 years old, but he saw something in her and asked her to come in a second time with a scary story book. He asked her to scream a lot. She screamed until she broke down in tears. The next day at the commissary, Spielberg told her and her family, "I don't know what it is about her, but she's got the job." She instantly became a star overnight and was easily recognized at her favorite theme park, Disneyland, and everywhere in California. In the years that followed, Heather was a familiar face on TV in Happy Days (1974) (1982-1983), Webster (1983) (1983-1984), and The New Leave It to Beaver (1983) (1986-1987), three shows in which she had recurring roles. In 1986, the highly anticipated sequel to her first movie, Poltergeist (1982) , Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) debuted in theaters; it was her riveting performance in this film that cemented her a place in Hollywood history. In January 1987, Heather began to have flu-like symptoms and her legs and feet swelled. She was taken to Kaiser Hospital, and they confirmed it was only the flu, but when symptoms continued, they diagnosed her as having Crohn's Disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestine. She was on medication throughout the filming of her next project, Poltergeist III (1988) , and her cheeks were puffy in some scenes. She never complained during filming and did not appear sick to fellow cast members. When filming was completed in June, Heather and her family went on a road trip from Chicago, to New Orleans, to Orlando and all the way back to Lakeside where they lived at the time. Heather was well until January 31, 1988, Super Bowl Sunday. She was unable to keep anything in her stomach and crawled into bed with her parents that night, saying that she didn't feel well. The next morning, February 1, sitting at the breakfast table, she couldn't swallow her toast or Gatorade. Her mother noticed her fingers were blue and her hands were cold. Kathleen called the doctor's and was getting ready to put her clothes on when Heather fainted on the kitchen floor. When the paramedics came in, Heather insisted that she was "really okay" and was worried about missing school that day. In the ambulance, Heather suffered cardiac arrest and died on the operating table at 2:43 p.m. at the tender age of 12. Of all her achievements, Heather was proudest of being elected student body president of her 5th grade class in 1985. - IMDb Mini Biography By: Celia Foster
  • Parents Michael O'Rourke Kathleen O'Rourke
  • Relatives Tammy O'Rourke (Sibling)
  • Her blonde hair
  • Widely known and referred to as the Poltergeist (1982) girl
  • Is buried in the same cemetery as her Poltergeist (1982) co-star, Dominique Dunne .
  • Her last words were "I love you" to her mother.
  • Fellow cast members described Heather as having a calming influence on the set. They also described cast meetings with her: everyone would be quickly leafing through the script, while Heather was sitting calmly. Being able to memorize 60 pages of script an hour, she would have already memorized the entire script.
  • Heather's Poltergeist III (1988) co-star Tom Skerritt was one of her pallbearers at her funeral.
  • During all the horrors that proceeded while filming Poltergeist (1982) , only one scene really scared her: that in which she had to hold onto the headboard, while a wind machine blew toys into the closet behind her. She fell apart; Steven Spielberg stopped everything, put her in his arms, and said that she would not have to do that scene again (Cinefantasque, July 1988).
  • I hope people enjoy what I do. That would make me happy because I'd be bringing others pleasure while doing something I like.
  • I never watch horror movies as a rule.
  • Why do people want my autograph? It's just my name I'm writing.
  • I'm really not afraid of spooky things. When I have to look really frightened, I concentrate on scary things like losing my kittens or something like that.
  • I want to continue acting, but I want to be a director. I'd been thinking about it for a while. A couple of years ago, I decided it would be a different experience to work behind the camera. And I'd be able to work on scripts. But I like acting a lot. It's fun. You meet a lot of people.
  • Poltergeist III (1988) - $140,000
  • Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) - $75,000

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‘Poltergeist’ Heather O’Rourke Took Her Last Breath at Just 12 — the Extremely Unusual Circumstances of Her Passing

Titi Dokubo

In 1987, Heather O'Rourke fell very ill. The first symptoms were nausea, and the hospital insisted that she had the flu. During the filming of "Poltergeist III," the child star began to undergo the first treatment for her condition even though it made her face puff.

The disease remained unknown to the public until February 1, 1988, when Heather was rushed to the hospital following an illness where the hospital found that she had developed an acute intestinal obstruction.

Although she underwent an emergency operation, she died of complications caused by septic shock resulting from the occlusion and subsequent sepsis. The third film opens with a dedication to her memory.

Pictures of Heather O'Rourke | Photo: Getty Images, youtube.com/ScreamFactoryTV

Pictures of Heather O'Rourke | Photo: Getty Images, youtube.com/ScreamFactoryTV

ABOUT HEATHER O'ROURKE

On December 27, 1975, the child star from San Diego was discovered by director Steven Spielberg while having lunch in the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios with her mother and her older sister. Her older sister Tammy O'Rourke was working as a dancer in the film "Pennies from Heaven."

Spielberg, who produced movies from the "Poltergeist" franchise, cast her after the audition in which she did the "scream" test even though she was only five years old. The film was infamous for the mysterious deaths of four of its characters.

Heather was born to Kathleen and Michael O'Rourke. Her mother worked as a seamstress, and her father as a construction worker. Her parents were divorced in 1981, and her mother married part-time truck driver Jim Peele in 1984 while living in a trailer park in Anaheim, California.

Heather's success later allowed the family to purchase a home in Big Bear Lake, California. In between acting jobs, Heather attended Big Bear Elementary School. At the time of her death, her family lived in Lakeside, California, a suburb in San Diego.

HEATHER'S ILLNESS

In early 1987, the little girl fell ill with what was eventually misdiagnosed as Crohn's disease and subsequently underwent medical treatment during the making of "Poltergeist III."

The film's shooting lasted from April to June of that year, with June 1988 being the expected date for the film's release, and Heather was able to finish her part.

In reality, she suffered from giardiasis , which remained unknown until the morning of February 1, 1988, when Heather fell ill and was rushed to the hospital. They found that she had developed acute intestinal obstruction, and she died at the age of 12.

Evils spirits attempted to capture Heather O'Rourke in a scene from the film "Poltergeist," 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

Evils spirits attempted to capture Heather O'Rourke in a scene from the film "Poltergeist," 1982 | Photo: Getty Images

HEATHER'S "UNUSUAL DEATH"

In January 1988, Heather began showing flu-like symptoms. The next morning, she collapsed at her home and was rushed to El Cajon Community Hospital. During the trip, she suffered cardiac arrest, but paramedics managed to restore her heartbeat.

They later flew her to the Children's Hospital of San Diego, where they discovered that she had an intestinal blockage and went for emergency surgery. Mike Meyer, the actress' manager and lawyer, said a section of her intestine bursted after ballooning to four inches in diameter.

Heather O'Rourke in "Happy Days" | Photo: Getty Images

Heather O'Rourke in "Happy Days" | Photo: Getty Images

Her cause of death was congenital stenosis of the intestine complicated by septic shock. Daniel Hollander, the chief of gastroenterology at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, said her death was "quite unusual" because she lacked previous symptoms of the bowel defect. He said ,

"I would have expected a lot of (digestive) difficulties throughout her life and not just to have developed a problem all of a sudden."

However, he also said it is possible for congenital bowel to narrow down, causing sudden symptom-free death if an infection had caused the bowel to rupture though it was very rare for the disorder to kill a child who's older and lacked initial symptoms.

Heather O'Rourke in "The Woman In White" | Photo: Getty Images

Heather O'Rourke in "The Woman In White" | Photo: Getty Images

He further speculated that her bowel narrowing might not have been congenital but could have developed suddenly due to inflammation. This is because the defect usually is apparent at birth. After all, it causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

Dr. Frank Sinatra, head of gastroenterology at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, stated that congenital bowel narrowing could cause sudden death after years without symptoms if the infection caused the bowel to rupture or become perforated.

Heather O'Rourke in "Second Time Around" | Photo: Getty Images

Heather O'Rourke in "Second Time Around" | Photo: Getty Images

Also, Dr. Paul Hyman, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center, stated that moderate bowel narrowing at birth might not cause symptoms, but a lack of symptoms before age 12 ″would be distinctly unusual.″

Meyer went on to say that it was weird as everything had happened too quickly. He said: ″It's weird. She was completely healthy Saturday, they thought she had the flu on Sunday, and she was dead on Monday." Another doctor, Dr. Hartley Cohen, a USC gastroenterologist, said, "It just doesn't seem to quite make sense."

Heather O'Rourke in "Happy Days" | Photo: Getty Images

KATHLEEN ON HER DAUGHTER'S DEATH

Furious over her daughter's death, in May 1988, Kathleen filed a wrongful-death suit to California Superior Court in San Diego County. She claimed that her daughter's illness was misdiagnosed, and this eventually caused her death.

The primary defendants of the suit were the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and Southern California Permanente Medical Group, a plan in which a rotating staff treats patients.

Heather O'Rourke held by JoBeth Williams in a scene from "Poltergeist" | Photo: Getty Images

Heather O'Rourke held by JoBeth Williams in a scene from "Poltergeist" | Photo: Getty Images

She stated that she had received a letter—dated March 30, 1987—from Dr. James Tipton of L.A.'s Kaiser Foundation Hospital saying there was "conclusive radiographic evidence for Crohn's disease [a chronic inflammation of the bowel]."

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The lawsuit pointed out that the operation performed on Heather on the day she died at Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego conclusively established that she did not have Crohn's disease but congenital stenosis that led to an acute bowel obstruction.

Heather O'Rourke photographed at a photo studio session in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Heather O'Rourke photographed at a photo studio session in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images

Kathleen argued that it was an intestinal blockage that had probably been present since birth. If they looked at the X-rays properly, it would have disclosed that the condition should have been treated surgically and not with medications only.

However, the Kaiser spokesman Alan Mann maintained that they had reviewed the case extensively and were satisfied that the diagnosis and the care provided were accurate.

Heather O'Rourke in "Happy Days" | Photo: Getty Images

In her lawsuit, the Beverly Hills attorney Sanford Gage, Kathleen's lawyer, revealed that she sought unspecified damages. "It covers both the personal loss [the emotional stress suffered by Heather's mother] and the economic loss."

For Kathleen, the loss was tremendous, and she remembered that she had told Heather, "I love you," and Heather replied, "I love you, too." These were their last words to each other before Heather passed on.

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The Tragic Story Of ‘Poltergeist’ Star Heather O’Rourke

The promising child star’s life was cut far too short.

Black and white photo of child actress Heather O'Rourke smiling and holding doll toy

After its premiere in 1982, Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist set the tone for the classic haunted house film. It created a formula that legions of filmmakers have followed. However, hiding behind the film’s production is the lesser-known story of the late child star Heather O’Rourke.

She Landed Her Breakthrough Role In ‘Poltergeist’

Heather Michele O’Rourke was born to parents Kathleen and Michael O’Rourke on December 27, 1975, in San Diego, California. She was an adorable young girl with white-blonde hair and a remarkable talent for both charming and frightening audiences. According to her agent, Mike Meyers , Heather was the president of her fifth-grade class and she could memorize a 60-page script in an hour.

The young actress had a modest upbringing before she caught the eye of filmmaker Steven Spielberg at an audition. In her breakout role as Carol Anne in Poltergeist , Heather served as the conduit for evil spirits that haunted a family’s suburban California home. She was the centerpiece of the film; it was her fascination with an unnamed, unseen spiritual entity that first alerted audiences to the film’s eerie antagonist. As the plot thickened, it was her disappearance that launched her family into a panicked search, leading them to unravel the mystery of their otherworldly guests.

Her line, “They’re here,” a declaration delivered with eerily misplaced childlike excitement, is undeniably the most quoted phrase from the film. The movie inspired two sequels, Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III , both of which starred the young Heather. She also had success on various TV shows, including a recurring role on Happy Days .

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In early 1987, before she began filming Poltergeist III , doctors diagnosed Heather O’Rourke with giardiasis, a parasitic infection that she most likely contracted from drinking well water. They subsequently diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease, although it’s unclear if this was an accurate diagnosis or not. They treated her with cortisone injections to keep the inflammation at bay. As her mother recalled to People , the steroids made her cheeks puffy, and the young actress was “rather embarrassed about her chipmunk cheeks.”

She Died Suddenly In 1988

Over time, Heather’s doctors weened her off of the cortisone, and by late that year, she seemed perfectly healthy. That was until January 31, 1988. That morning, Heather woke up vomiting. She couldn’t eat and was feverish. Initially, her family suspected the flu, but when she collapsed at their home, her mother immediately called an ambulance.

In the less-than-10-minute drive to the hospital, Heather went into cardiac arrest. Doctors were able to resuscitate her, and they rushed her into surgery. During an exploratory abdomen operation, doctors found an obstructed bowel, which they promptly cleared. However, her body had gone through too much, and she went into cardiac arrest once more while in recovery. Doctors performed life-saving measures for over 30 minutes before pronouncing her dead at 2:43 PM on February 1, 1988. She was only twelve years old.

The hospital reported her official cause of death as septic shock induced by congenital stenosis of the intestine. However, Heather’s sudden passing has baffled medical professionals in succeeding years. Congenital stenosis is a birth defect that involves the narrowing of blood vessels or other tubular organ structures. In most cases, those suffering from congenital stenosis of the intestine will exhibit severe digestive issues from a very young age, as materials are unable to pass through the narrow section of the intestine.

Thankfully, modern medicine allows surgeons to simply remove the narrow part of the intestine and connect the normal sections with little to no complications. The bizarre thing is, Heather never experienced any intestinal blockage prior to January 31. Aside from her bout of giardiasis one year prior, Heather was not known to exhibit any digestive issues at all.

People Struggled To Make Sense Of Her Death

Medical professionals have tenuously concluded that asymptomatic congenital stenosis of the intestine, while extremely unlikely, is not impossible. Congenital narrowing of the large intestine is said to appear in roughly one of every 500,000 live births. Among those, asymptomatic cases are virtually unheard of. Yet, there remains the small possibility that Heather was simply able to avoid the digestive issues that plague those with stenosis of the intestine for most of her life.

To this day, medical professionals haven’t been able to provide a satisfying explanation for Heather’s mysterious death. However, it hasn’t been for lack of trying. In fact, Heather’s mother, Kathleen, took her daughter’s case to the courts. According to the Associated Press, she filed a wrongful death suit against the doctors who diagnosed her daughter with Crohn’s disease.

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According to Kathleen, despite rigorous testing, doctors failed to recognize the blockage in her daughter’s intestine. As she saw it, it was a missed opportunity to save Heather’s life. The lawsuit was settled out of court, although Kathleen continues to insist that no amount of money could ever make things right. Today, Heather lives on in the cultural zeitgeist as Carol Anne. She’s fondly remembered as a promising young star whose life and career were halted far too soon.

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Heather O'Rourke

American child actress (1975–1988) / from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, dear wikiwand ai, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:.

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Heather Michele O'Rourke (December 27, 1975 – February 1, 1988) was an American child actress . She had her breakthrough starring as Carol Anne Freeling in the supernatural horror film Poltergeist (1982), which received critical acclaim and established her as an influential figure in the genre. [1] [2] She went on to reprise the role in Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) and Poltergeist III (1988), the last of which was released posthumously.

O'Rourke also worked in television, appearing in the recurring roles of Heather Pfister on the comedy series Happy Days (1982–1983) and Melanie in the sitcom Webster (1983), as well as starring as Sarah Brogan in the television-film Surviving: A Family in Crisis (1985).

Throughout her career, O'Rourke was nominated for six Young Artist Awards , winning once for her role in Webster . On February 1, 1988, O'Rourke died following two cardiac arrests, her cause of death later being ruled as congenital stenosis of the intestine complicated by septic shock .

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poltergeist actress heather orourke

In 1988, Heather O’Rourke starred in Poltergeist. Age 12, she died in mysterious circumstances.

Helen Vnuk

As an angelic little blonde girl in 1982, Heather O’Rourke spoke one of the most famous horror movie lines ever: “They’re here.” 

The movie was the mega hit Poltergeist . Heather would go on to star as Carol Anne in the sequel, where she declared, “They’re back.” But in 1988, at the age of 12, before Poltergeist I II came out, Heather died in mysterious circumstances.

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Heather had a classic Hollywood story of being discovered. She was eating lunch with her mum Kathleen, while waiting for her older sister Tammy, who was a dancer in the movie Pennies From Heaven . Steven Spielberg, who was looking for a “beatific” four-year-old to star in his upcoming horror movie Poltergeist , spotted her. He asked her into his office, and tested her acting ability. 

“He wanted me to be afraid of this pink fish and this purple pig and all that,” Heather later explained . 

The next day, Heather was signed on to star in Poltergeist , scoring the role over Drew Barrymore. The movie is about a couple with three children who move into a house inhabited by spirits. The youngest child, Carol Anne, can hear the spirits through the TV set. She is sucked into a portal to another dimension, but later rescued. 

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Oliver Robbins, who played Carol Anne’s brother Robbie, says he and Heather were like “brother and sister” on set. 

“She was precocious and a very intelligent girl for someone who was only five years old,” he told Daily Mail Online in 2015. 

Following the massive success of Poltergeist , Heather was offered other roles, guest-starring in classic '80s shows Webster and CHiPs and scoring an ongoing role in Happy Days as the daughter of Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) girlfriend. Her manager, Mike Meyer, said she had the ability to memorise a 60-page script in an hour. Heather’s earnings meant that her family could move from a trailer park to a three-bedroom house in the woods in Big Bear, California. 

Poltergeist II came out in 1986. It was in 1987 that Heather started getting sick. After numerous trips to the doctor, she was told she had the parasite giardia, probably picked up from the well water at her house in the woods. She was treated for that, but later diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and put on cortisone. It gave her a “chipmunk cheeks” look that she was self-conscious about. 

That same year, Heather shot Poltergeist III . Director Gary Sherman tells the Shudder documentary series Cursed Films that he “absolutely adored” her.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Once Heather had finished shooting, the family went on a road trip to Disney World. Kathleen described it as “the vacation of a lifetime”. 

On February 1, 1988, Heather woke up feeling unwell but insisted she wanted to go to school. Her symptoms worsened. She couldn’t swallow, her fingers and toes started turning blue and her breathing became heavy and fast. She collapsed on the floor, and Kathleen called an ambulance. She was in septic shock. 

Kathleen told Heather, “I love you,” and Heather replied, “I love you, too.” 

Those were the last words she spoke. She suffered cardiac arrest in the ambulance. At the hospital, doctors resuscitated her, but she had suffered brain damage. They performed surgery and found she had a bowel obstruction caused by a birth defect, rather than Crohn’s disease. But it was too late to save her. She was pronounced dead that afternoon. 

Dr Daniel Hollander, head of gastroenterology at the University of California medical centre, told AP that Heather’s death was “distinctly unusual” because she hadn’t shown prior symptoms of the bowel defect. 

“I would have expected a lot of [digestive] difficulties throughout her life and not just to have developed all of a sudden,” he explained. 

Another gastroenterologist, Dr Hartley Cohen, also found Heather’s death unusual. 

“It just doesn’t seem to quite make sense,” he said. 

Heather’s funeral was held three days later. Her Poltergeist and Happy Days  co-stars attended. Reverend Dennis Estill told the mourners there were two things Heather had wanted in her life. 

“She wanted an Academy Award. She wanted a Rolls Royce.”

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Heather was buried in an open casket, wearing a chain that said “friend” around her neck. Kathleen wore the matching chain that said “best”.

“Heather gave me these for Christmas,” Kathleen told People . “She used to tell her friends that I was her best friend and not just her mum.”

Kathleen said after Heather’s death she had to force herself to get up and to eat. 

“I couldn’t cook in the kitchen anymore. Heather loved pies, cakes and cookies, and I used to make them for her. In the beginning I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I thought, ‘Why go on?’”

In May that year, Kathleen filed a wrongful death suit, claiming that Heather would still be alive if she had not been misdiagnosed.

Meanwhile, Sherman had been planning to re-shoot the ending of Poltergeist III . But without Heather, he felt her couldn’t – and he didn’t want to, anyway. 

“I can’t go back into the cutting room or watch this film with this dead 11-year-old in it,” he remembers thinking. 

But he tells Cursed Films that he had to. 

“Afterwards, the board at MGM just said to us, ‘You’re going to finish the film. We’ve got a lot of money invested in the film.’”

He had to come up with an ending that didn’t involve Heather.  

“So we came up with the idea for the stupid ending that’s on the film now and used a double for Heather. That was the creepiest thing I’ve ever gone through in my life.”

The rumours that the  Poltergeist  films were cursed had started long before Heather’s death. Dominique Dunne, the 22-year-old actress who played Carol Anne’s older sister Dana, was strangled by her ex-boyfriend in her driveway just months after Poltergeist  was released. She never regained consciousness and died five days later. 

Two stars of Poltergeist II passed away not long after they finished shooting. Julian Beck, who played Kane, died of cancer before the film was released, while Will Sampson, who played Taylor, died of post-operative kidney failure the following year.

When Heather died, the rumours went into overdrive. Someone came up with the theory that the curse was caused by real skeletons having been used in the making of Poltergeist , and that theory took off.  

Craig Reardon, the makeup special effects artist for Poltergeist , tells Cursed Films that this is “conceptually ridiculous” and “personally offensive”. He says human skeletons have been used in movies for years. 

“The idea of having a few of them on the set of Poltergeist and killing two lovely young girls is a pretty pernicious idea,” he says. “It’s an insult to the memory of a very sweet little girl, Heather O’Rourke, and it’s worse that than to Dominique Dunne, who was strangled to death by her [ex-] boyfriend, which had f—k-all to do with a skeleton.”

Feature image: Getty.

Suit Filed in ‘Poltergeist’ Actress’ Death

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Heather O’Rourke, the young actress sucked into a supernatural vacuum in the “Poltergeist” movies, died because the doctors who treated her throughout her childhood failed to diagnose a longstanding small-bowel obstruction, according to a wrongful-death suit filed Wednesday by a law firm representing the girl’s mother.

The 12-year-old actress, who warned “They’re heeere!” in “Poltergeist” and “They’re baaack!” in the sequel, “Poltergeist II,” died Feb. 1 on the operating table at Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

At the time, hospital officials said her death was caused by septic shock leading to cardiac arrest. Officials explained that septic shock was brought on by congenital stenosis of the intestine, a bowel blockage the girl evidently had since birth.

The suit was filed in San Diego Superior Court against Kaiser Foundation Hospital of San Diego and Southern California Permanente Medical Group on behalf of Kathleen O’Rourke Peel of Lakeside, Heather’s mother and administrator of her estate. It does not specify damages.

Children’s Hospital was not included as a defendant.

Spokesmen for the Kaiser hospital and medical group declined to comment on the charges.

“We have reviewed the case extensively, and we are convinced that the care we provided was appropriate,” a Kaiser Permanente spokesman said.

Sanford M. Gage, the family’s attorney, said that, if the Kaiser doctors who treated Heather from birth had properly diagnosed the bowel obstruction, rather than simply prescribed medication for an intestinal inflammation, they could have performed a simple operation “that would have cured her.”

The girl exhibited flu symptoms on Jan. 31. The next day her condition worsened, and she was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital, then flown by helicopter to Children’s Hospital, where exploratory bowel surgery was performed.

The “Poltergeist” films, first released in 1982, told the story of a middle-class American family whose young daughter begins communing with creatures she sees on her television screen.

Besides her “Poltergeist” roles, Heather was a regular on the TV series “Happy Days,” a recurring character on “Webster” and “Still the Beaver,” and one of the stars in an ABC miniseries on teen-age suicide called “Surviving.”

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Mysterious death of 80s childstar Heather O’Rourke and the ‘Hollywood curse’ surrounding it

A 1980s classic became known as Hollywood’s most “cursed” film following the untimely death of a 12-year-old actress.

Bella Fowler

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Not only is Steven Spielberg’s Poltergeist regarded as one of the most terrifying horror films of all time, it’s also known as the most “cursed” film in Hollywood.

Shrouded in superstition following a handful of mysterious cast deaths, the 1982 film’s grim history has followed it through decades – even casting fear over the critically reviled 2015 remake.

Heather O'Rourke died suddenly after filming the third instalment of the Poltergeist franchise. Picture: Supplied.

RELATED: The five most cursed movies of all time

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The “Poltergeist curse”, as it’s become known, came about after four of the cast members died of mysterious circumstances – the most shocking being that of Heather O’Rourke – the cherubic 12-year-old childstar who played protagonist Carol Anne in all three Poltergeist films, as well as Heather Pfister in Happy Days .

THE ORIGINAL TRILOGY

Set in a house built on an ancient Native American burial ground, the original Poltergeist trilogy told the terrifying story of the Freeling family and their encounters with the supernatural.

Gifted with a connection to the spiritual world, the youngest daughter, Carol Anne (O’Rourke), was haunted by the malicious spirits buried beneath her home, including that of a sadistic doomsday cult leader named Kane.

Heather O'Rourke played a child harassed by evil spirits in Poltergeist. Picture: Getty Images.

It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982 and was a commercial success, grossing $1.13 million in the United States, making it the highest-grossing horror film of 1982 and eighth overall for the year.

The film’s special effects – inventive for its era – makes it frequently ranked among the greatest horror films of all time.

BEGINNINGS OF “THE CURSE”

Many believe the “Poltergeist Curse” began the same year the first movie was released.

Actress Dominique Dunne, who made her film debut in Poltergeist as the elder sister of Carol Anne, died a violent death shortly after its release in 1983.

She was strangled to death by her boyfriend, John Thomas Sweeney.

According to a New York Times article, Dunne was put on life support after the attack but passed away five days later.

Sweeney was later found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, according to a 1983 article from The Freelance Star.

JULIAN BECK

It was the actor who played Carol Anne’s most intimidating spirit, doomsday cult leader Kane, who died next.

Julian Beck, who played Kane in Poltergeist II sadly did not live to see the release of the sequel.

He was 60 when he lost a battle with stomach cancer on September 14, 1985, according to The New York Times.

WILL SAMPSON

The third in the spooky string of deaths associated with the film was of the man who portrayed a friendly ghost named Taylor in the second Polergeist film, Will Sampson.

Sampson died on June 3, 1987, aged 53, after of an illness caused by a chronic degenerative condition, according to The Herald Journal.

HEATHER O’ROURKE’S DEATH

It was the unexpected nature of Heather O’Rourke’s death which led many to believe the “Poltergeist Curse” was real.

Known for adorable, blue-eyed angelic looks and her creepy delivery of the line; “They’re here” in the first film of the series, it was largely O’Rourke’s chilling performance that made the film iconic.

At 12 years old, she passed away suddenly.

The actress died in surgery when doctors were attempting to repair an acute bowel obstruction, caused by what was believed to be a long battle with Crohn’s disease, the LA Times reported.

The young actress was tragically pronounced dead after suffering septic shock, on February 1, 1988.

Heather O'Rourke rose to fame in the first film of the Poltergeist trilogy. Picture: Supplied.

HOW THE “CURSE” AFFECTED THE 2015 REMAKE

When Poltergeist was rebooted in 2015, superstitious film buffs were quick to unearth rumours of the “curse” surrounding the film.

Starring Sam Rockwell and Rosemarie DeWitt, the movie may have been widely panned, but no cast members died.

In a Reddit AMA , however, director Gil Kenan recalled “paranormal activity” during filming.

“Lights that could turn on anywhere else in the neighbourhood would blow out the second you’d try to light them on (the set),” Kenan wrote.

“Also, I used a lot of aerial drone photography in the film, and the drone pilots were never able to lock in the GPS signal in this field. We would have to move 10 feet away to launch the craft.”

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Documentary ‘Heather O’Rourke: She Was Here’ About ‘Poltergeist’ Star Will Debut In 2023

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A new documentary is hoping to clear the record about the tragically short life of a beloved 80s child actor. Heather O’Rourke won hearts in the first three  Poltergeist  movies, with the last one released posthumously.  Heather O’Rourke: She Was Here  will debut in 2023, over 30 years after her death. 

According to the IMDB Summary  Heather O’Rourke: She Was Here “ is a historical film that will preserve Heather’s story with the help of those who knew her best. Heather’s legacy has recently become tarnished by rumors and false allegations. In She Was Here , the O’Rourke Family along with Heather’s co-stars will bring you up close and personal through their own stories along with never before seen photos and home video. “

Also Read: The Number 1 Psychological Thriller on Netflix Stars Florence Pugh And Fans Are Calling It “A cinematic masterpiece”

images - Documentary 'Heather O'Rourke: She Was Here' About 'Poltergeist' Star Will Debut In 2023

The rumors and false allegations mentioned may be related to Henry Winkler’s claims that O’Rourke was sexually abused and committed suicide. Although Winkler made these claims in 1988, they still make the rounds every so often. 

However, Heather’s sister Tammy refuted the claims three years ago in an interview on Fancounters. She shared memories of her sister being a regular kid that had aspirations to write and direct.

After battling various illnesses, O’Rourke died at the age of 12 in 1988. Her cause of death was ruled congenital stenosis of the intestine complicated by septic shock. Her death has been cited as one of the reasons people believe  Poltergeist  was a cursed film.

Very little is known about  Heather O’Rourke: She Was Here  at this point. However, what we do know is that it was directed by Nick Bailey of Fancounters Podcast. IMDB lists Craig T. Nelson, Linda Purl, and JoBeth Williams as some of the people interviewed alongside O’Rourke’s family and friends. 

There is a Facebook page for people who want to keep an eye on the project.

Let me know if you also want to dive into  Heather O’Rourke: She Was Here  to learn about the child behind all of the rumors at  @misssharai .

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Top Lawyer Confirms ‘Poltergeist’ Child Actor Killed by Hollywood Pedophile Ring

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Steven Spielberg with Heather O’Rourke

Heather O’Rourke was murdered by elite entertainment industry pedophilia network

By: Jay Greenberg |@NeonNettle

© press  Star of Poltergeist Heather O’Rourke was killed by a Hollywood pedophile ring

A top entertainment lawyer has confirmed that the child star of movie Poltergeist, Heather O’Rourke, was killed by an elite Hollywood  pedophile ring .

The young actor played Carol-Anne Freeling in all three of Steven Spielberg’s  Poltergeist  films and also had parts in popular TV shows  Webster  and  Happy Days .

Perhaps her most famous moment was her line  “they’re here”  in the first Poltergeist movie.

Heather tragically died in 1988 aged just 12-years-old from intestinal stenosis after a bowel obstruction had caused a fatal infection that brought on septic shock resulting in cardiac arrest.

Now, a top attorney has come forward with evidence that Heather was raped by powerful movie business  elites  on the set of a TV show called  “Rocky Road.”

He claims that it was this attack, which was one of many, that ultimately led to her untimely death.

© press  Heather O’Rourke was famed for her line ‘they’re here’ in the Poltergeist movie

“A bunch of f**king pigs. I had just turned 12 or 13. I was the same age as the actress coming in. Maybe a little older. We had been shooting for months and I was old news. They knew I would do what they wanted, but they always wanted someone new. This was someone new and someone they all knew. They had it set up like a peep show almost.  “She had finished shooting that morning and they brought her out on a stage. The stage was used most of the time for a game show that was taped there. That game show is still on today. I can’t watch it knowing what happened to her there. They brought her out and the front four rows of this theatre were filled with guys who were already rubbing themselves. The girl was wearing a bikini. “The show took place  around  a beach just so they could make these girls wear next to nothing. They had her walk around under the lights. The lights were focused on her and she couldn’t really see out to the audience. She was squinting. It must have been blinding for her. They had her walk back and forth. “Then they had her start dancing. All of these guys were doing what another star at that same studio got busted for. This went on for about 20 minutes. Then three of the guys took her to a different area of the studio.”

© press  There are claims Steve Spielberg has information on Heather O’Rourke’s death

Heather was acting in the eighties and she was not yet a tween, had hit films and television appearances / this matches ENT LAWYER claims this girl was first molested at 5 or 6, Heather was discovered by Steven Speilberg and had her first acting role at the age of 5 in a show called Fantasy Island / this matches The exact television show set that these events occurred on cannot be verified 100% but the clues seem to lead to “Rocky Road” as it was filmed in the same studio as jeopardy (which is still running today) and Pewee Herman (who is alluded to for being busted masturbating in a theater) /this matches or at least makes sense A medic needed to be called because something had been inserted into the girl which ended up eventually killing her / this could match as Heather died of bowel problems

The fact that this poor girl died at such a young age is already heartbreaking but if there is any credibility to these claims it seems at least possible that some foul play was involved in her death.

___ http://www.neonnettle.com/features/1273-top-lawyer-confirms-poltergeist-child-actor-killed-by-hollywood-pedophile-ring

Promipool

'Poltergeist': The Tragically Brief Life Of Heather O'Rourke (†12)

Posted: 27 December 2023 | Last updated: 28 December 2023

Heather O'Rourke appeared destined for greatness after breaking through as a child star in the Poltergeist movies and on Happy Days in the 1980s. But in 1988, the young actress suddenly and heartbreakingly passed away at the age of 12.

On Dec. 27, 2021, Heather would have turned 46 years old. Here's the official report on her tragic death, followed by a commemoration of her film and TV career and legacy.

Heather O'Rourke died tragically young in 1988

In January 1988, one month after her 12th birthday, child star Heather O'Rourke began experiencing flu-like symptoms while at her family home. Her condition turned extreme the next day, when she collapsed and went into cardiac arrest. 

Doctors revived her, after which they discovered she had intestinal stenosis. But following emergency surgery, she again experienced a cardiac arrest. They were unable to restart her heart and she was pronounced dead on Feb. 1. She was just 12.

According to the AP, doctors explained that Heather had a bowel defect that had gone undetected and that her case was "distinctly unusual" in that it did not display any symptoms in the lead up to her death.

They said: Heather died of "septic shock due to congenital stenosis of the lower intestine. That means she died of shock caused by infection in the blood, which in turn was caused by a birth defect that made a section of her intestine abnormally narrow."

Poltergeist: Heather O'Rourke's impressive movie and TV legacy

The loss of the young star is still a devastating one over 30 years later. Though O'Rouke worked in Hollywood for just six years, she left quite a lasting impression on movie and TV history. As the story goes, director Steven Spielberg discovered her while having lunch at MGM Studios.

Her older sister Tammy was there filming, and Spielberg spotted little Heather with her mother. The filmmaker cast O'Rourke as the lead in 1982's Poltergeist, in which she played the innocent young daughter "Carol Anne." She was 6 years old at the time.

O'Rourke's line in the film, "They're here," is an iconic horror quote and her line, "They're back," was the tagline of the 1986 sequel. Around the time of the first Poltergeist movie, O'Rourke also acted on Fantasy Island and had a recurring role on Happy Days as little "Heather Pfister," the daughter of "Ashley" (Linda Purl), who dated "Fonzie" (Henry Winkler) in season 10.

Also Interesting:

In addition, she played "Melanie" on Webster, which earned her the Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress, Guest in a Television Series, in 1985. She was nominated for six Young Artist Awards and one every year from 1983 to 1987.

Other credits for O'Rourke included CHiPs, The New Leave It to Beaver, and Our House. Sadly, Poltergeist III became her final role, released posthumously in 1988. In 2005, the AFI selected her Poltergeist line — "They're here" — at no. 69 on the "100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes" list.

Heather was entombed at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Poltergeist: The Tragically Brief Life Of Heather O'Rourke (†12)

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The Freelings frantically search for Carol Ann in 'Poltergeist' (1982)

"They're heeeeere !" Who can forget those chilling words from little Carol Ann (Heather O'Rourke) as ghostly apparitions projected out of a television and into the Freeling family household in the classic 1982 horror film  Poltergeist ? "The TV People" led by the evil Reverend Kane (Julian Beck) would go on to terrorize audiences (as well as the Freelings) in three movies, including 1986's Poltergeist II: The Other Side  and the final film in the trilogy, 1988's Poltergeist III .

All three films are filled with memorable, spine-tingly moments such as the hideous clown doll that pulls Robbie Freeling (Oliver Robins) under his bed, or perhaps the nightmarish tree that smashes through his bedroom window and literally tries to devour him. Another etched-in-brain scene for many is from the second film, when Steve ( Craig T. Nelson ) swallows a possessed worm while guzzling a bottle of tequila, which leads to him eventually vomiting out an H.R. Giger monstrosity. What happens in these movies is truly the stuff of nightmares, but to many, it's what happened in real life to some of the cast members that's far more tragic.

Even if you're just a casual moviegoer or horror fan, you've probably heard of "the Poltergeist curse." It's been the subject of many online articles, TV specials and mini-documentaries, including E! True Hollywood Story: Curse of the Poltergeist and most recently, episode three of Shudder's Cursed Films . Sadly, four lead actors from the trilogy all suffered deaths within a six-year span following the original film's release, leading many to believe that the movie sets were somehow cursed. This led to other various myths and exaggerated claims about what happened on the set — but before we get into that, let's look at the four main deaths that paved the way for the now infamous curse.

Dominique Dunne

Perhaps one of the most grisly and tragic deaths was that of 22-year-old actress Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest sister in the first film, Dana Freeling. Her character was mentioned in Poltergeist II as being off to college, but the reality was, any ideas screenwriters might have had for her character in the sequel had to be scrapped entirely due to Dunne's untimely death just months after the original movie was released. 

On the evening of October 30, 1982, Dunne was brutally strangled by an aggravated ex-boyfriend. The assailant, identified as sous chef John Sweeney, showed up at her West Hollywood home in hopes of repairing their relationship and moving back in with her. An argument erupted on Dunne's driveway, where the deadly attack took place. When police arrived at the scene, Sweeney was quoted as saying "I've killed my girlfriend!" 

At the time, Dunne was still alive; she was rushed to Cedar's-Sinai Medical Center, where she remained in a coma for five days and never regained consciousness. On November 4, 1982, just three weeks before what would have been her 23rd birthday, she was removed from life support and pronounced dead. Dunne was considered a rising star at the time and had just landed the role of Robin Maxwell in the 1983 science-fiction miniseries  V , which she was rehearsing for the night she was assaulted.

Julian Beck

Arguably one of the creepiest villains in horror history is Reverend Henry Kane, the human form of "The Beast" played by thespian Julian Beck. He's the gaunt, 19th century-looking cult leader who spends most of Poltergeist II trying to infiltrate the Freeling residence and abduct Carol Ann — and yes, he's also the same dude who possessed the aforementioned tequila worm. Even though he completed principal photography of the film, Beck would never live to see the theatrical release of Poltergeist II since he passed away on September 14, 1985 — during the film's post-production period and a full eight months before its premiere. 

Unlike Dominique Dunne's shocking murder, Beck passed away after a long battle with stomach cancer, something he had been diagnosed with in 1983 . So while his death is certainly unfortunate, it also definitely wasn't out of left field. Beck was dying of stomach cancer during the production and the entire crew was well aware of his diagnosis. Some believe it even influenced his chilling final performance in a film.

Will Sampson

Some remember actor Will Sampson as Chief Bromden from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , but horror fans know him as Taylor, the Native American shaman from Poltergeist II . Sampson passed away due to post-operative kidney failure following a heart and lung transplant. Again, this is another death of a cast member that eerily occurred not long after the release of a Poltergeist movie. Sampson passed away on June 3, 1987 , but much like Beck's situation, he had a preexisting medical condition. Sampson suffered from scleroderma, a chronic degenerative condition that caused him severe malnourishment and other complications with his heart, skin, and lungs. He was only age 53 at his time of death.

Heather O'Rourke

The most well-known death that sparked and fuels the " Poltergeist curse" fire to this day was the shocking loss of Heather O' Rourke, who played Carol Ann — the young, angelic face of the entire franchise. During production of Poltergeist III in 1987, O'Rourke was undergoing treatment for Crohn's disease, which would turn out to be a misdiagnosis. In the third episode of  Shudder's   Cursed Films docuseries, director Gary Sherman shares several memories and speaks very fondly of the young actress, saying that, aside from O'Rourke's "chipmunk cheeks" — a side effect caused by the bowel inflammation medications she was taking at the time — she remained in high spirits and overall seemed physically fine and enjoyed her time on the set. Little did he know or anyone else know that something fatal was brewing within. 

Fast forward to January of 1988, when O'Rourke became severely ill and her health started deteriorating at an alarming rate. On February 1, 1988, she was rushed to the hospital, where she  ultimately died due to septic shock caused by undetected intestinal blockage. This blockage ruptured and the toxins released in her body proved to be too much. During an operation the 12-year-old O'Rourke was undergoing the same day of her death, it was also revealed that she did not have Crohn's disease, but an acute bowel obstruction due to a congenital stenosis — something that could've been surgically corrected had it been detected sooner. With only four months until the film's release, her death caused the studio to force Sherman to shoot an entirely new ending using a double, something the director was strongly against. He preferred that the movie not be released at all, but MGM ultimately had its way. O'Rourke's tragic end would be the fourth death of a Poltergeist major cast member in a six-year span.

Lou Perryman

While the deaths of Dominique Dunne, Julian Beck, Will Sampson, and Heather O'Rourke are seen as part of the supposed "curse," there is another death that some fans like to bring up to further pile on the evidence, but it happened 17 years after the release of the original movie and it's very likely someone you don't recall seeing. Actor Lou Perryman, who had a very minor role as a construction worker named Pugsley, was gruesomely murdered in his home by Seth Christopher Tatum — an ex-con with a history of mental health problems. On April 1, 2009 , Tatum was on the run after a violent altercation with his mother's ex-boyfriend when he randomly came across Perryman's home (the two had never met) and killed him. His reason? Just to steal his car. The case was settled two years later when the killer, who'd stopped taking his medication for bipolar disorder shortly before the murder, was sentenced to life in prison .

Oliver Robins is alive and well

It's apparent there's a lot of real-life death surrounding the Poltergeist movies, and while some like to believe it has to do with a curse, others believe it's simply a string of unfortunate coincidences. You might also hear other false or exaggerated Poltergeist myths, such as all three kids from the original film died, which is totally untrue. Robbie Freeling, played by Oliver Robins, is alive and well. In a 2015 interview with the Daily Mail , when asked about the strange deaths surrounding the franchise, he told them he believes there is no curse. "To be completely honest, I don't think anyone that was involved in the movie ever really took the curse seriously. There is no curse — it is just tragic coincidences," he said. "People may try and connect the dots and make something out of it, but they are possibly going to make connections that probably aren't there. They do make for great spooky stories, but at the end of the day, they really aren't true."

Did real human skeletons cause the curse?

If there is a Poltergeist  curse, what caused it? One widely-discussed theory is the fact that real skeletons were used by the effects crew in the first two movies, most notably in the muddy swimming pool scene from the original with Diane Freeling, played by JoBeth Williams. Desecration of human remains plays a big role in the first film as the probable cause of the Freelings' pesky poltergeist problem. How ironic would it be if these real skeletons somehow jinxed the cast? This theory doesn't exactly hold up, though — Williams is still alive and well, as is daddy Freeling himself, Craig T. Nelson.

One man who is strongly against the notion that these real skeletons led to the deaths of the actors is special make-up effects artist Craig Reardon, who worked on Poltergeist . "The subject of the skeletons that were used in Poltergeist , to my utter amazement has created sort of an online mythology, and not a pretty one," said Reardon when interviewed for Shudder's Cursed Films . "Apparently, there's a contingent of people out there who believe that the fact that real human skeletons were used are some kind of pretext to 'explain' why two actresses that worked in the film subsequently died, which is not only just conceptually ridiculous, but is personally offensive to me."

As Reardon went on to point out, "human skeletons have been used in movies for years and years." Examples cited in his interview include  House on Haunted Hill  and the 1931  Frankenstein.  "No low-budget B film is gonna pay anybody to sculpt a human skeleton when all you had to do was go to a biological supply house and get a human skeleton. You know, wake up and small the budget. That's really the way it worked," he added. "The idea of having a few of them on the set of Poltergeist and killing two lovely young girls is a pretty pernicious idea."

Zelda Rubinstein slams the curse

Perhaps one of the most famous Poltergeist characters of all, arguably only second to Carol Ann, is the clairvoyant ghost-vanquisher Tangina "This house is clean" Barrons, played to perfection by Zelda Rubinstein, who passed away at the age of 76 in 2010 due to complications that followed a mild heart attack. Most never consider her death part of the curse due to her age, cause of death, and how far removed it was from the close string of deaths between 1982 and 1988. And that's likely how she would want it. Much like Oliver Robins, Rubinstein always felt the idea of a Poltergeist  curse was just superstitious nonsense. In fact, you might even say she found it to be downright preposterous. 

In a 1988 interview during a Showbiz Today segment on CNN, she candidly spoke about the curse in her signature gracious manner but ended it on a classy yet blunt note. "I owe it to Heather to present her case, as most honestly and lovingly as I can. I loved this child very much and I am still very grieved at her passing," said Rubinstein. "Heather died because of an undetected, congenital, anatomical defect. Julian Beck died from cancer in his mature years. Will Sampson passed away after receiving a heart and lung transplant. It's my understanding he had an environmental disease. And Dominique Dunne died at the hands of an extremely ill-directed, passionate boyfriend. These are reasons, I do not call this a jinx. I think that it's pretty much a courtesy to put to an end this superstitious crap ."

The 'Poltergeist' Curse: Inside the Mysterious Cast Deaths and Oddities On Set

JoBeth Williams looks on as Craig T Nelson holds Oliver Robins in a scene from the film 'Poltergeist', 1982. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

Released in 1982, the original Poltergeist , directed by Tobe Hooper and produced by Spielberg, was an instant success and is considered to be a masterpiece of American horror cinema. The film focuses on the Freelings, a middle-class family (led by a youthful, dashing Craig T. Nelson) whose life is upturned when a number of paranormal and vicious events occur in their California home and their daughter Carol Anne is abducted through her bedroom closet by a group of ghosts who are under the control of a monster demon called the “Beast.”

After learning that their house sits atop a Native American burial ground, the Freelings spend their time attempting to retrieve Carol Anne and all the while stay sane as they get smacked around, terrorized and ultimately, “goobered” on in the bathtub.

With Poltergeist's success came a creepy mystique that the classic film is shrouded in real-life tragedies that some interpret as a curse.

Four cast members died during and soon after the filming of the series

The majority of the fuel for the alleged curse stems from the deaths of multiple cast members. In total, four cast members died during and soon after the filming of the series. Two of these tragic deaths were highly unexpected and puzzling, leading many fans to speculate on the trilogy’s eerie implications.

Heather O'Rourke screams as she is harassed by evil spirits in a scene from the film 'Poltergeist', 1982. (Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images)

Heather O'Rourke

Carol Anne Freeling, the young focal point of the series, was played by Heather O’Rourke. Only six years old when the first Poltergeist film was released, O’Rourke captivated audiences with her stark blond hair, doll-like appearance, and big, inquisitive eyes. Sadly, however, she was misdiagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in 1987. The following year, O’Rourke fell ill again, and her symptoms were casually attributed to the flu. A day later, she collapsed and suffered a cardiac arrest. After being airlifted to a children’s hospital in San Diego, O’Rourke died during an operation to correct a bowel obstruction, and it was later believed that she had been suffering from a congenital intestinal abnormality.

Dominique Dunne

Dominique Dunne, who played the original older sister Dana Freeling, met an equally tragic and unforeseen fate. In 1982, Dunne separated from her partner, John Sweeney. In November of that year, he showed up at Dunne’s house, pleading for her to take him back. When she refused, Sweeney grabbed Dunne’s neck, choked her until she was unconscious, and left her to die in her Hollywood home’s driveway. Sweeney was sentenced to six and a half years in prison but was released after three years and seven months.

Julian Beck and Will Sampson

The other two cast member deaths, while unfortunate, were not as unpredictable or mysterious. The evil preacher Kane from Poltergeist II was played by Julian Beck. In 1983, Beck had been diagnosed with stomach cancer, which took his life soon after he finished work on the second installment of the series. The same film was met with further tragedy, after Will Sampson, who played Taylor the Native American shaman, died after undergoing a heart-lung transplant, which had a very slim survival rate.

Other strange things happened on set

Cast deaths were not the only agents of the curse’s proliferation, as other peculiar and creepy legends surround the film franchise. JoBeth Williams, who played mom Diane Freeling in the first two films, claimed that director Spielberg insisted on using actual human skeletons as props in an attempt to save money (at the time, they were cheaper than plastic skeletons). Williams’ claim has never been verified, but it persists to this day in the lore surrounding the films’ curse.

Finally, in an effort to further creep out everyone involved, Sampson, the real-life medicine man who passed away due to circumstances mentioned above, performed an authentic exorcism after shooting wrapped up one night. One can only imagine how this made the other cast members feel.

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In Memory Of

Heather O’Rourke 1975 – 1988

poltergeist actress heather orourke

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Heather O’Rourke

Heather O'Rourke Headshot

Birth Date: December 27, 1975

Death date: february 1, 1988, birth place: san diego, california.

IMDB

An ethereal blonde child star, Heather O'Rourke became an overnight star with her eerie delivery of the line, "They're heeeere" in "Poltergeist" (1982). Cast by Steven Spielberg himself, O'Rourke's Carol Anne was the youngest child of a family plagued by ghosts in the influential horror hit, and in many ways became the most important figure of the franchise. After recurring on "Happy Days" (ABC, 1974-1984), she returned for "Poltergeist II: The Other Side" (1986) and sparked a thrilling new catchphrase, They're baaaaack." Eerily self-possessed with platinum blonde hair and a precious intelligence, O'Rourke proved enormously effective as the supernaturally-attuned Carol Anne, but in real life was a sweet-natured, down-to-earth child unaffected by her stardom or her horror films. After filming "Poltergeist III" (1988), the 12-year-old actress, who had been misdiagnosed with Crohn's disease, died on Feb. 1, 1988 from complications surrounding an undiagnosed acute bowel obstruction. Her otherworldly demeanor, shocking death and the subject matter of the "Poltergeist" films added luster to the urban legend of a curse surrounding the franchise. Although her life and career were tragically cut short, Heather O'Rourke lived on in the popular consciousness and left behind a tantalizing glimpse of what her full potential could have been.

Born Dec. 27, 1975 in San Diego, CA, Heather Michele O'Rourke displayed a natural talent for performing, following in the footsteps of her older sister, Tammy. A veteran ad model and commercial actress by age five, O'Rourke made her screen debut in an episode of "Fantasy Island" (ABC, 1978-1984). While waiting for her mother and sister, the latter of whom had earned a role as a dancer in the Steve Martin musical comedy "Pennies from Heaven" (1981), O'Rourke was sitting at a table alone at the MGM Studios Commissary when she caught the attention of Steven Spielberg. Telling him she was not allowed to talk with strangers, Spielberg waited in silence with her until her mother and sister arrived, and then interviewed them about the young girl.

Although he had been considering Drew Barrymore for the role, O'Rourke's precociousness, self-possession and otherworldly appearance stuck with Spielberg. Casting Barrymore in "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial" (1982), he cast O'Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling, the young daughter of a couple (JoBeth Williams and Craig T. Nelson) whose home, built on an Indian burial ground, is host to an array of ghosts in "Poltergeist" (1982). In tune with the supernatural realm through the television and her plastic toy phone, O'Rourke's Carol Anne served as the heart of the movie and delivered its singsong, eerie catchphrase which became a pop culture touchstone: "They're heeeere." The film was an enormous success, and O'Rourke's character one of its most memorable elements, with scene-stealing psychic Tangina (Zelda Rubenstein)'s often-imitated, whispery delivery of lines like "Carol Anne" and "go into the light" also entering the lexicon.

With her profile receiving an enormous boost, O'Rourke remained refreshingly down to earth, by all accounts leading a normal childhood of schoolwork, chores and family time when she was not working. She booked a role in the made-for-TV movie "Massarati and the Brain" (ABC, 1982), a guest spot on "CHiPs" (NBC, 1977-1983) and scored a recurring role on "Happy Days" (ABC, 1974-1984). For her recurring role on "Webster" (ABC, 1983-87; syndicated, 1987-89), she won a Young Artist Award, and she earned additional credits for TV movies like "Surviving: A Family in Crisis" (ABC, 1985). O'Rourke earned another box office hit and saw her Hollywood stock rise when she reprised Carol Anne for "Poltergeist II: The Other Side" (1986). Although critics found it lacking the depth and warmth of the first film, it proved a successful entry in the series with audiences, and once again O'Rourke served as its center, recapturing the public's imagination with her new spooky catchphrase, "They're baaaaack." After guest spots on "Our House" (NBC, 1986-88) and "Rocky Road" (TBS, 1985-87), she recurred on "The New Leave It to Beaver" (CBS, 1983; Disney Channel, 1984-85; TBS, 1986-89) before commencing filming of "Poltergeist III" (1988). Unlike the first two films in the series, the spotlight left the Freeling family as a whole and instead shone solely on O'Rourke's Carol Anne, sent to an ultra-modern, mirrored skyscraper to live with her aunt and uncle (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt) to escape her ghostly pursuers. Besides the reappearance of Zelda Rubenstein, O'Rourke was the only cast member to return, and the film was intended to give her a bigger showcase than had been required in previous installments. Tragically, this was not to be.

Misdiagnosed as having Crohn's disease in 1987, O'Rourke was on medication for the disease. On Jan. 31, 1988, at home after filming "Poltergeist III," O'Rourke became violently ill. The following morning, while preparing to leave for the hospital, O'Rourke collapsed. Resuscitated after experiencing cardiac arrest while being transported by paramedics, she was airlifted to Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego. Surgery revealed that instead of Crohn's disease, she was suffering from an acute bowel obstruction caused by congenital stenosis of the intestine and complications from septic shock, which caused her death on Feb. 1, 1988 at the age of 12. Her parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit, which went to arbitration and was settled out of court.

O'Rourke's tragic and unexpected death added fuel to the urban legend of a "Poltergeist" curse and cast a pall over the release of "Poltergeist III" four months later. Studio executives minimized publicity so as not to be seen as profiting off of the tragedy, and a double for O'Rourke had to be used when they decided to reshoot the ending. Although her career was brief, O'Rourke left a long-lasting pop cultural impression, evidenced by a 2008 DirecTV commercial that blended archive footage of her in "Poltergeist" with new footage of Craig T. Nelson. Although the company described how the actress's family saw it as a tribute to her, the commercial drew widespread criticism for its allegedly exploitative nature. The silver lining to the sad story was that in 12 years of life, Heather O'Rourke achieved a pop culture resonance that continued to echo decades later.

By Jonathan Riggs

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The insanely dark story behind “poltergeist” and its young star heather o’rourke.

The unexpected death of the child star Heather O’Rourke at age 12 cemented an urban legend that was circulating for years: The movie “Poltergeist” was cursed. However, the real cause of her death might be infinitely more disturbing: Hollywood depravity.

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The 1982 movie Poltergeist is widely considered a horror classic whose influence still reverberates today. Indeed, if nobody wants to live anywhere near an ancient burial ground to this day, it is because of that movie.

While there have been tons of horror movies released in the past decades, Poltergeist stands out from the crowd. It is certainly one of those movies people seem to remember more vividly than others. Why is that?

For one, Poltergeist is not your typical horror flick with a dark atmosphere and adult theme. It was written and co-directed by Steven Spielberg who was simultaneously working on E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial at that time . In fact, the summer of 1982 was dubbed “The Spielberg Summer” because E.T. and Poltergeist were released one week apart.

At first glance, Poltergeist has a similar look and feel to E.T. However, Poltergeist quickly turns into pure nightmare fodder for children. In fact, the movie appears to be specifically made to terrify young viewers.

And millions of children ended up watching that movie because, astoundingly, it was rated PG – despite the fact that there’s a scene where a guy literally peels his face off. How did that happen? Was it a gross oversight? Not at all.

A 2001 article in The New Yorker revealed that Poltergeist was initially given an R rating by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) through a unanimous vote. However, after intense pressure by the movie makers (including Spielberg himself), the movie ended up getting a PG rating … by unanimous vote. In other words, the system got corrupted.

This caused countless parents to believe that the movie was OK for children to watch. It wasn’t.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

The headline of a 2020 article on Polygon.

The author of this article goes as far as calling Poltergeist a “betrayal of Spielberg’s audience”. He argues:

“This movie is jam-packed  with stuff to specifically and intentionally terrify children. It’s not limited to the clown, the tree (Spielberg is said to have taken inspiration from one that creeped him out as a child), and the bedroom closet. The evil is in the TV! There’s one in every room to take you straight to hell! You’re not safe inside your own home, especially at night (which is always strobe-lit by lightning).” – Polygon, Poltergeist’s PG rating was a crime against kids of the ’80s

In short, Poltergeist contains scenes that sadistically poke at children’s most visceral fears, anxieties, and insecurities. In fact, according to IMDB , the star actress Shirley Maclane actually turned down the role of the mother in Poltergeist because she “objected to the terrorization of children”. She said that.

Maclane clearly realized that there was something wrong with that movie. And, boy was she right. Not only did it insidiously prey on children, but a bizarre number of actors who worked on the three Poltergeist movies ended up dead. These bizarre events lead to an urban legend about Poltergeist being cursed.

Either that or the movie industry is sick.

Preying on Children

poltergeist actress heather orourke

The tagline of this Poltergeist poster is “It knows what scares you”. Yup, they know what scares you and they use it against you.

Poltergeist is about a 5-year-old girl named Carol Anne Freeling (played by Heather O’Rourke) who gets abducted by demonic spirits who communicate with her through the TV. Carol Anne calls them “TV people”.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

The industry is telling you that it is preying on children.

The TV people exist with an evil entity called The Beast.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Symbolic fact: The sound effect that was used for The Beast in Poltergeist is the source of the current MGM lion roar.

The terror in Poltergeist does not take place in a dark forest or an abandoned warehouse. It takes place in a regular house, in the children’s room, at bedtime.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Robbie (Carol Anne’s 8-year-old brother) is scared of the tree outside his window.

Feeling frightful at nighttime is a visceral instinct for children. It’s programmed in our genes for survival. While parents do everything they can to quell those fears, Poltergeist does the exact opposite.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

The tree crashes into the bedroom and snatches Robbie away.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Then, everything in the children’s bedroom gets sucked into the closet as Carole Ann hangs on to her bed.

While filming the scene above, Heather O’Rourke had to hold on to the headboard of the bed while a wind machine blew toys in the closet behind her. The scene reportedly terrified her to the point that she “fell apart”.

The actor who played Robbie also had a terrible experience filming Poltergeist.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

In one scene, the creepy clown in the bedroom grabs Robbie and starts strangling him.

Here’s a strange anecdote about that scene:

When Robbie is being strangled, the clown’s arms became extremely tight and Robins started to choke. When he screamed out, “I can’t breathe!” director Steven Spielberg and Tobe Hooper thought that the boy was ad-libbing and just instructed him to look at the camera. When Spielberg saw Robbins’s face turning purple, he ran over and removed the clown’s arms from Robbins’ neck. – IMDB

Other than Carol Anne and Robbie, there was the big sister – Dana Freeling.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Dana, the 16-year-old big sister.

In the scene above, Dana gets catcalled by grown men working in the backyard. Another example of preying on the young.

After getting sucked into the closet, Carole Ann is missing. Her parents discover that they can communicate with her through the television and they quickly realize that the TV people are not nice at all. In a harrowing scene, we hear Carole Ann screaming through the TV:

“Mommy there’s somebody coming! Mommy help me please! Get away from me! Leave me alone!”

Completely powerless against the TV people, her mother yells out:

poltergeist actress heather orourke

This quote sums up the movie industry as a whole.

Then, a medium called Tangina comes in to save Carol Anne from the spirits.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

The role of Tangina was played by actress Zelda Rubinstein who claimed to have actual psychic abilities and had visions of things before they happened. She also said that she did not like co-director Tobe Hooper because she could see he had a drug problem.

Tangina explains that a “terrible presence” is with Carol Anne. She says:

“It keeps Carol Ann very close to it (..,). It lies to her. It says things only a child can understand. To her, it is simply another child. To us, it is the Beast. She’s under restraint. There are so many arms about her. She thinks it’s safe”.

Sadly enough, these same exact words could be used to describe Hollywood child predators who lure children into their TV people realm.

At the end of the movie, all hell breaks loose.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Skeletons appear all over the swimming pool and inside the house.

Disturbing fact: The movie makers used REAL dead bodies in these scenes.

And, yes, that movie was rated PG. Some believe that the use of real dead bodies caused the movie to be cursed.

Curse or Hollywood Insanity?

Only a few months after the release of Poltergeist , Dominique Dunne (who played the role of the big sister Dana Freeling) was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.

Dunne met John Thomas Sweeney, a sous-chef at the restaurant Ma Maison, at a party in 1981.  The two began a relationship, which turned stormy. Sweeney was uncontrollable and abusive (so abusive that Dominique did not need makeup to play the role of an abuse victim on Hill Street Blues) . Dominique ended the relationship on October 30, 1982. That same night, a distraught Sweeney raced to her house, where she and actor David Packer were rehearsing a scene from  V: The Final Battle , dragged her outside, and strangled her, leaving her brain-dead. – Ibid.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

Dunne on Hill Street Blues . That’s not makeup. She was beaten by her boyfriend the day before.

On November 4th, 1982, Dunne was removed from life support and passed away. To make things worse, the trial of John Thomas Sweeney ended up being a travesty. He was acquitted of second-degree murder and was only found guilty of voluntary manslaughter for which he served merely three years in jail. After his release, he changed his name and started a new life on the Pacific North West.

In the following years, two sequels to Poltergeist were released – each of which was followed by the death of an actor which intensified the “ Poltergeist curse” rumor. While the death of some of these actors was due to an illness or old age, the untimely death of Heather O’Rourke shocked the nation.

What Happened to Heather O’Rourke?

poltergeist actress heather orourke

O’Rourke with Spielberg.

The bizarreness surrounding O’Rourke began right when she was chosen for Poltergeist .

Heather O’Rourke was chosen for the film when she was eating lunch with her mother and sister at an “MGM” commissary. Producer Steven Spielberg came up to them and wanted O’Rourke for the part of Carol Anne. She initially failed the screen test because she kept laughing her way through the audition, even when she was supposed to be afraid. Spielberg thought she was too young to take the part seriously, but he still recognized something special in her, so he asked her to come back for another audition, and this time, bring a scary storybook with her. He also asked her to scream, so she screamed and screamed until she started crying. This audition got her cast as Carol Anne. – Ibid.

A few years later, on February 1, 1988, O’Rourke died following two cardiac arrests at 12 years old. She was filming Poltergeist III . While the official cause of death was “congenital stenosis of the intestine complicated by septic shock”, doctors could not explain why this young girl died so suddenly. Daniel Hollander, the doctor who treated O’Rourke’s, stated that the death was “distinctly unusual”.

A 1988 article by the Associated Press article titled Doctors: Unusual Circumstances Surrounded Actress’ Death describes the mystery surrounding O’Rourke’s death.

The death of 12-year-old ″Poltergeist″ actress Heather O’Rourke was ″distinctly unusual″ because she lacked prior symptoms of the bowel defect that reportedly killed her, gastrointestinal doctors say. ″I would have expected a lot of (digestive) difficulties throughout her life and not just to have developed a problem all of a sudden,″ said Dr. Daniel Hollander, head of gastroenterology at University of California, Irvine, Medical Center. Other specialists, also unconnected with the case, said Wednesday it was possible she died as the resulted of a birth defect, but added that the circumstances of her death were extremely unusual. (…) Terry Merryman, spokeswoman for Children’s Hospital of San Diego, said Heather died Monday of septic shock due to congenital stenosis of the lower intestine, or bowel. That means she died of shock caused by infection in the blood, which in turn was caused by a birth defect that made a section of her intestine abnormally narrow. Such narrowing typically reduces bowel diameter to one-eighth inch instead of the normal half inch, impeding movement of food and fluid through the bowel. The defect usually is apparent at birth because it causes severe abdominal pain, vomiting and nausea, Hollander said, adding that it is very rare for the disorder to kill an older child who lacked prior symptoms. Mike Meyer, the actress’ manager and lawyer, said Heather didn’t suffer chronic digestive problems, and the bowel narrowing wasn’t discovered until she underwent surgery and died on the operating table after suffering cardiac arrest en route to the hospital. Hollander speculated that Heather’s bowel narrowing might not have been congenital but could have developed suddenly due to inflammation. (…) Moderate bowel narrowing at birth might not cause symptoms, but a lack of symptoms before age 12 ″would be distinctly unusual,″ said Dr. Paul Hyman, chief of pediatric gastroenterology at Harbor-University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center. (…) ″I cannot understand what precipitated the death because it’s usually clear when they’re born they have an important disease,″ said Dr. Carlo Di Lorenzo, a University of Southern California pediatrician. ″It just doesn’t seem to quite make sense,″ said Dr. Hartley Cohen, a USC gastroenterologist. ″It’s weird,″ Meyer said. ″She was completely healthy Saturday, they thought she had the flu on Sunday and she was dead on Monday.″

In short, O’Rourke’s death had something to do with her intestines. However, if she had been born with this issue, O’Rourke would have displayed severe symptoms. So what happened?

In 2017, “Enty”, the anonymous entertainment lawyer behind the famed Hollywood gossip site Crazy Days and Nights provided a highly disturbing explanation. In the blind item titled “ Molesters Killed Her ” (which was later revealed to be about O’Rourke), Enty writes:

Back in the mid-80’s was peak child molesting time in Hollywood. There was no internet. There were very very few mobile phones. Children came to the set where they were left alone by their parents. For the next 8 hours they were subject to every kind of horrible thing you can imagine. Drugs were commonplace. They were used to try and get the kids to not be so hysterical when being assaulted. Producers loved casting shows with kids and tweens. If someone pitched a show that involved a handful of tweens with a dozen tween extras per week, it would get a green light. Even if the show was going to suck, and everyone knew it was going to suck, if you got the right pedo at a studio he would say yes just to come for the casting and taping of the pilot. As sad as it is to say, there were a lot of parents who told their kids to go off with the nice man in the suit and do what he says. It was a sick sick time. It was just past the mid 80’s when a producer came up with the idea of a tween show that not only would feature a rotating cast of extras, but would make the studio a bunch of money because they would film quickly and not hire any adults. Further, the faster they filmed, the more time they would have to molest all the kids that would be hanging around. From the first day, it was the worst place on earth if you were a kid. The studio where the show was filmed also had several other shows being filmed there, most of which featured lots of children. Executives would drive over to Hollywood right before lunch and would stay at the studio for several hours each day. Anyway, on this particular show, there was a special guest star. A very special guest star. Still not a tween, everyone knew who she was. Executives flocked to the studio that day to see her. She was first molested when she was 5 or 6 and had continued to be molested throughout her hit movies and also on a previous show. One of the stars of the show who has spent her life bouncing in and out of rehab because of what she saw, and who was actually nominated for awards from the show, described the atmosphere that day. “A bunch of f**king pigs. I had just turned 12 or 13. I was the same age as the actress coming in. Maybe a little older. We had been shooting for months and I was old news. They knew I would do what they wanted, but they always wanted someone new. This was someone new and someone they all knew. They had it set up like a peep show almost. She had finished shooting that morning and they brought her out on a stage. The stage was used most of the time for a game show that was taped there. That game show is still on today. I can’t watch it knowing what happened to her there. They brought her out and the front four rows of this theatre were filled with guys who were already rubbing themselves. The girl was wearing a bikini. The show took place around a beach just so they could make these girls wear next to nothing. They had her walk around under the lights. The lights were focused on her and she couldn’t really see out to the audience. She was squinting. It must have been blinding for her. They had her walk back and forth. Then they had her start dancing. All of these guys were doing what another star at that same studio got busted for. This went on for about 20 minutes. Then three of the guys took her to a different area of the studio.” The actress didn’t see what happened, but about 45 minutes later, one of those three guys came running out and needed a set medic. Apparently they had inserted something inside the girl and things were bad. The medic came and the ambulance came. The parents of the girl were told some crap story. That crap story ended up killing the girl because the parents believed the executives. Two weeks later, the show finished shooting six episodes all at once and then everyone was sent on their way forever. No one wanted the kids around or any witnesses to what happened.

Inquisitive minds pieced together the clues in this post and determined that the TV series in question was Rocky Road. O’Rourke appeared in the episode titled Moscow on Boardwalk which aired in May 1987. The actress of the same age would be Marcianne Warman.

Naturally, one should take this story from a gossip site with a grain of salt. Honestly, I’d much rather it be a complete fabrication. However, since the creation of his site in 2006, Enty earned widespread recognition in media due to his correct predictions. Indeed, Enty published stories about Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Matt Lauer years before their abuses were exposed in mainstream media.

And, sadly, Enty’s explanation makes sense. It would explain why O’Rourke suddenly developed issues in her intestines.

In 2020, Enty posted another blind item about O’Rourke. And it was equally disturbing. It revealed that the young girl could not even find peace after death.

For nearly a decade, the things that occurred at the tomb of this deceased A- list child star actually resulted in her body being permanently moved to an unmarked grave in 2001. She was originally placed in an above-ground mausoleum, which is still marked with her name and at which people still leave flowers and teddy bears. The weird stuff began happening the day after her interment. A man was seen after sundown taking a bouquet of flowers from her grave, but he fled before he could be identified. In the summer of 1988 someone used red spray paint to write “ALL WORN OUT – RR” across the marble face of her vault. The family was notified, it was photographed, and then over the course of five hours the vault was cleaned. The police were called, but they didn’t think it was important. For whatever reason the photograph didn’t develop properly. Sometime in the fall of 1988 another man (probably the same as before, but there is no way of knowing) was spotted kneeling in front of her tomb after dark. He also fled when spotted. On the anniversary of her death in 1989, her family (mom, dad, stepdad, sister, grandparents) gathered at the tomb to remember her. It was very somber, they held hands, the sister placed a little stuffed Dumbo in front of the grave. As they were about to leave a man approached them and said something which frightened the mother. Her dad and stepdad each took her by an arm and led her away, back over to their car. Then they left. The unidentified man stayed behind and picked up the little Dumbo that the sister left and stuffed it in his pocket before leaving. Now here’s where things get really strange. There wasn’t much activity around her grave for several years. Then, in about 1991, her body was exhumed. It was done in the dark, so no one would notice. Her body was returned to the tomb three days later. In 1992, her body was exhumed a second time. One of the police present was asked why they were exhuming her again. He said, “What do you mean, ‘again’? Turns out the first exhumation wasn’t legal even though they had what looked like real police and really good paperwork. Why did they want with the body of a deceased 12 year old? Surely it would warrant an investigation, right? Nope. Anyway, the coroner’s office kept her for about a week before she was brought back and we reinterred her. In 1994 somebody had smashed the face of her tomb, removed her body, cut some hair from her head, and (fortunately) placed her back in the crypt. A worker there saw the corpse and he said she looked remarkably well-preserved. He started to float the possibility that her body had actually been replaced with an exact replica. The police investigation went nowhere. In 1999 there was another vandalism of the tomb. It wasn’t another smashing, but red spray paint had been used again to write “BK KILLED ME”. In the summer of 2001 her family had her body moved to an unmarked below ground grave.

poltergeist actress heather orourke

O’Rourke’s original gravesite.

Crazy Days and Nights readers deduced that “RR – All worn out” was probably a reference to the show Rocky Road . “All worn out” could have been a reference to O’Rourke’s being “worn out” by the abuse. “BK KILLED ME” could refer to Bruce Kane, the producer of Rocky Road .

In Conclusion

Poltergeist was all about preying on children. The movie even got a PG rating which tricked countless children into watching this nightmarish thing.

The movie itself was about a young girl getting abducted by “TV people” who are controlled by “the Beast”. I don’t see a better way of summing up the short life of Heather O’Rourke. She entered the industry as a toddler. From then on, she was controlled by it. However, unlike Carol Anne in Poltergeist , nobody saved her these real-life TV people.

When pondering on what might have happened to Heather O’Rourke, one quote from Poltergeist immediately comes to mind:

poltergeist actress heather orourke

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IMAGES

  1. 'Poltergeist': The Tragically Brief Life Of Heather O'Rourke

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

  2. Poltergeist (1982)

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

  3. Heather O'Rourke's Short Life and Tragic Death of the 'Poltergeist

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

  4. Heather O'Rourke's Short Life and Tragic Death of the 'Poltergeist

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

  5. ‘Poltergeist’ Heather O’Rourke Took Her Last Breath at Just 12

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

  6. Poltergeist (1982)

    poltergeist actress heather orourke

VIDEO

  1. Poltergeist III -On The Run

  2. Did you know THIS about Heather O’Rourke & Julian Beck in POLTERGEIST II: THE OTHER SIDE (1986)?

  3. ¿Cómo murió la protagonista de "Poltergeist"?

  4. Poltergeist III (1988) They Thought it Was Her

COMMENTS

  1. Heather O'Rourke

    Heather Michele O'Rourke (December 27, 1975 - February 1, 1988) was an American child actress. She had her breakthrough starring as Carol Anne Freeling in the supernatural horror Poltergeist (1982), which received critical acclaim and established her as an influential figure in the genre.

  2. 'Poltergeist' Star Heather O'Rourke Dies at Age of 12

    Feb. 3, 1988 12 AM PT Times Staff Writer Heather O'Rourke, the terrified youngster sucked into a spectral vacuum by supernatural spirits in the "Poltergeist" films, has died on an operating...

  3. Heather O'Rourke

    Poltergeist III (1988) 5 Videos 43 Photos Heather Michele O'Rourke was born on December 27, 1975 in Santee, San Diego, California, to Kathleen, a seamstress, and Michael O'Rourke, a construction worker. She had German, Danish, English, and Irish ancestry. Heather entered American cinematic pop-culture before first grade.

  4. The Sad Discovery Made In Poltergeist Star Heather O'Rourke's ...

    Heather O'Rourke, the little girl who played Carol Anne, who was coveted by the scary spiritual entity in the classic Poltergeist, died at only 12 - but why?

  5. Mysterious death of 80s childstar Heather O'Rourke and the 'Hollywood

    Heather O'Rourke played a child harassed by evil spirits in Poltergeist. Photo / Getty Images It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982 and was a commercial success, grossing...

  6. What Really Happened During the Making of Poltergeist

    By Anthony Breznican September 22, 2022 They're Heeere! Heather O'Rourke as Carol Anne Freeling, communing with spirits through her family's television in Poltergeist. © 1982 Turner...

  7. Heather O'Rourke

    Heather O'Rourke Jump to Edit Overview Born December 27, 1975 · San Diego, California, USA Died February 1, 1988 · San Diego, California, USA (cardiopulmonary arrest and intestinal stenosis) Birth name Heather Michele O'Rourke Nicknames Bernie Heath Height 4′ 8″ (1.42 m) Mini Bio

  8. 'Poltergeist' Heather O'Rourke Took Her Last Breath at Just 12

    The "Poltergeist" child star Heather O'Rourke fell very ill in 1987, and by February 1, 1988, she passed away in what was termed an "unusual death." ... Mike Meyer, the actress' manager and lawyer, said a section of her intestine bursted after ballooning to four inches in diameter. Heather O'Rourke in "Happy Days" | Photo: Getty Images.

  9. The Tragic Story Of 'Poltergeist' Star Heather O'Rourke

    Culture Celebs The Tragic Story Of 'Poltergeist' Star Heather O'Rourke The promising child star's life was cut far too short. By Ariel Gordon October 31, 2022 | 5:00 p.m. CDT MGM Studios/Getty Images After its premiere in 1982, Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist set the tone for the classic haunted house film.

  10. Heather O'Rourke

    Heather Michele O'Rourke (December 27, 1975 - February 1, 1988) was an American child actress. She had her breakthrough starring as Carol Anne Freeling in the supernatural horror film Poltergeist (1982), which received critical acclaim and established her as an influential figure in the genre.

  11. Heather O'Rourke, 'Poltergeist' Child Star, Dies

    Heather O'Rourke, the terrified youngster sucked into a spectral vacuum by supernatural spirits in the film "Poltergeist," is dead at the age of 12, it was learned today. The blonde ingenue,...

  12. What happened to 12-year-old actress Heather O'Rourke.

    September 4, 2020 Leave a comment Listen Now ADVERTISEMENT Oliver Robbins, who played Carol Anne's brother Robbie, says he and Heather were like "brother and sister" on set. "She was precocious and a very intelligent girl for someone who was only five years old," he told Daily Mail Online in 2015.

  13. Suit Filed in 'Poltergeist' Actress' Death

    By BOB BAKER. May 26, 1988 12 AM PT. Times Staff Writer. Heather O'Rourke, the young actress sucked into a supernatural vacuum in the "Poltergeist" movies, died because the doctors who ...

  14. Heather O'Rourke death: How the Poltergeist childstar died

    Heather O'Rourke played a child harassed by evil spirits in Poltergeist. Picture: Getty Images. It was released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer on June 4, 1982 and was a commercial success, grossing $1.13 million in the United States, making it the highest-grossing horror film of 1982 and eighth overall for the year.

  15. Documentary 'Heather O'Rourke: She Was Here' About 'Poltergeist' Star

    Nov 18, 2022. A new documentary is hoping to clear the record about the tragically short life of a beloved 80s child actor. Heather O'Rourke won hearts in the first three Poltergeist movies ...

  16. Top Lawyer Confirms 'Poltergeist' Child Actor Killed by Hollywood

    A top entertainment lawyer has confirmed that the child star of movie Poltergeist, Heather O'Rourke, was killed by an elite Hollywood pedophile ring. The young actor played Carol-Anne Freeling in all three of Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist films and also had parts in popular TV shows Webster and Happy Days.

  17. "Poltergeist III" Director Was Forced Finish Film After Child Star's Death

    When child star Heather O'Rourke tragically passed away at the age of 12 after a sudden illness, her final work, the horror sequel Poltergeist III, was still in production.(She had first come to fame with the first film in the franchise, back in 1982). According to a 2000 JoBlo.com interview with director Gary Sherman, there were still 17 pages of script left to shoot, including a "tear ...

  18. 'Poltergeist': The Tragically Brief Life Of Heather O'Rourke (†12)

    The life story of Heather O'Rourke is one of incredible accomplishments before a devastatingly early end. The child actress of the 1980s is remembered as the star of the Poltergeist films...

  19. The Tragic Real-Life Story Of The Poltergeist Cast

    On the evening of October 30, 1982, Dunne was brutally strangled by an aggravated ex-boyfriend. The assailant, identified as sous chef John Sweeney, showed up at her West Hollywood home in hopes of...

  20. The 'Poltergeist' Curse: Inside the Mysterious Cast Deaths and Oddities

    Heather O'Rourke. Carol Anne Freeling, the young focal point of the series, was played by Heather O'Rourke. Only six years old when the first Poltergeist film was released, O'Rourke captivated ...

  21. Heather O'Rourke

    Heather O'Rourke 1975 - 1988. About This Site. This website is dedicated to the life and memory of child actress Heather O'Rourke. Heather is most known for her portrayal as Carol Anne Freeling in the 1982 hit movie Poltergeist and its sequels.

  22. Heather O'Rourke

    Heather O'Rourke - Actress Heather O'Rourke Actress Birth Date: December 27, 1975 Death Date: February 1, 1988 Birth Place: San Diego, California An ethereal blonde child star,...

  23. The Insanely Dark Story Behind "Poltergeist" and its Young Star Heather

    The unexpected death of the child star Heather O'Rourke at age 12 cemented an urban legend that was circulating for years: The movie "Poltergeist" was cursed. However, the real cause of her death might be infinitely more disturbing: Hollywood depravity. Published 2 years ago on December 1, 2021 By Vigilant Citizen Facebook Twitter Subscribe