In 1988, Heather O’Rourke starred in Poltergeist. Age 12, she died in mysterious circumstances.
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.
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.
Heather O’Rourke, ‘Poltergeist’ Child Star, Dies
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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, who finished filming “Poltergeist III” last summer, starring as Carol Ann Freeling for the third time, died Monday.
The Associated Press said she had been pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital in San Diego. United Press International quoted her agent, Bob Preston, as saying she “passed away on the way to the hospital” where her parents had called after she fell seriously ill.
Her family, who lives in Big Bear, was not available for comment.
A spokesman for Metro Goldwyn Mayer, where the “Poltergeist” films were produced starting in 1981, said the studio would issue a clarifying statement later.
Heather, also seen regularly on television’s “Happy Days,” “Webster” and “Still the Beaver,” brought two catch phrases into the language after Poltergeists I and II. The first was “They’re heeeere!” which she screamed after coming into contact with strange forces while peering into an apparently blank TV screen. The second was “They’re baaaack!” featured in the sequel.
Heather came to films when she was 5 and sitting in the MGM commissary. Steven Spielberg saw her and asked if he could talk to her. She replied that she didn’t talk to strangers.
But she got permission and that led to her role in “Poltergeist.”
Heather is the second actress from the “Poltergeist” movies to die at a young age. Dominique Dunne, was strangled in October, 1982.
Dunne, then 22, who played Heather’s older sister, had tried to break off her relationship with her boyfriend. Los Angeles chef John Sweeney was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced in November, 1983, to the maximum 6 1/2 years in prison.
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Heather O'Rourke (December 27, 1975 – February 1, 1988) played the recurring role of Heather Pfister , the 7-year-old daughter of Ashley Pfister , a divorcee who was Fonzie's steady girlfriend in Season 10 of Happy Days , appearing in five episodes that season. Heather was well known for her role as Carol Anne Fleming in the blockbuster 1982 Steven Spielberg film series Poltergeist .
- 1.1 Early life
- 3.1 Lawsuit
- 3.2 Lasting ramifications
- 4 Filmography
- 5 External links
Life and career [ ]
A child actress, Heather was discovered at the age of five by director Steven Spielberg while eating lunch with her mother at the MGM commissary. Spielberg cast her as Carol Anne Freeling in the 1982 horror film Poltergeist . She would go on to reprise the role in the second and third installments.
In addition to her roles in the Poltergeist series , O'Rourke also had her recurring role as Heather Pfister on Happy Days from 1982 to 1983, and made several television guest appearances. She died at the age of 12 of cardiac arrest and septic shock caused by a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis in February 1988.
Early life [ ]
O'Rourke was born in San Diego, California to Kathleen and Michael O'Rourke. Her mother worked as a seamstress and her father was a construction worker. She had an older sister, Tammy. Kathleen and Michael divorced in 1981, and O'Rourke's mother married truck driver James A. "Jim" Peele in 1984. After her parents' divorce, O'Rourke rarely saw her birth father and called her stepfather "Dad".
Before Heather had begun acting, the family lived in a trailer park in Anaheim. Her success later allowed the family to purchase a home in Big Bear Lake, California. In between acting jobs, O'Rourke attended Big Bear Elementary School where she was president of her class. At the time of her death, the family was living in Lakeside, California.
In a contemporary interview with American Premiere magazine, director Steven Spielberg explained that he was looking for a "'beatific' four-year-old child...every mother's dream" for the lead in his 1982 horror film Poltergeist . While eating in the MGM commissary, Spielberg saw five-year-old Heather O'Rourke having lunch with her mother while older sister Tammy was shooting Pennies from Heaven. After his lunch, Spielberg approached the family and offered O'Rourke the Poltergeist role; she was signed the next day, beating Drew Barrymore who was up for the role.
In the Poltergeist trilogy, O'Rourke played Carol Anne Freeling, a young suburban girl who becomes the conduit and target for supernatural entities. The New York Times noted that she had played the key role in the films and commented, "With her wide eyes, long blonde hair and soft voice, she was so striking that the sequel played off her presence." During the production of the original Poltergeist , Spielberg twice accommodated the child actress when frightened. When scared by performing a particular stunt, Spielberg replaced O'Rourke with a stunt double wearing a blonde wig; and when disturbed by the portrayal of adult abuse toward the child characters, Spielberg did not require her to perform the take again. For her work in Poltergeist, O'Rourke earned between US$35,000–$100,000. O'Rourke played the role in all three films. O'Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein were the only original cast members to appear in the third film, Poltergeist III .
O'Rourke's delivery of the lines "They're here!" in the first film, and "They're baa-aack!" in the second (that film's tagline), placed her in the collective pop culture consciousness of the United States. "They're here!" is #69 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Movie Quotes.
After her work in 1982's Poltergeist, O'Rourke secured several television and TV movie roles. In April 1983 she starred as herself alongside Morey Amsterdam and well-known Walt Disney animated characters in the hour-long television special, Believe You Can ... and You Can! She also appeared in CHiPs, Webster, The New Leave It to Beaver, Our House, and had a recurring role on Happy Days as Heather Pfister. In the television movies Massarati and the Brain and 1985's Surviving: A Family in Crisis, she played Skye Henry and Sarah Brogan, respectively.
O'Rourke became ill in early 1987 and was misdiagnosed by doctors at Kaiser Permanente Hospital as having Crohn's disease. She was prescribed cortisone to treat the disease, which reportedly caused her cheeks to appear puffy and large. On January 31, 1988, O'Rourke suddenly became ill again, vomiting and unable to keep anything down. The next morning she collapsed while preparing to leave for the hospital and her stepfather called paramedics. O'Rourke suffered a cardiac arrest en route to the hospital, and after resuscitation she was airlifted by helicopter to Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego, where she died later that day.
Speaking to reporters, O'Rourke's manager David Wardlow initially announced that it was believed she died of influenza. However, hospital spokesman Vincent Bond announced that O'Rourke died during surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction (caused by congenital stenosis of the intestine) complicated by septic shock; this report was corroborated by the San Diego County coroner's office on February 3, two days after her death. Later reports changed the specific cause of death to cardiac arrest caused by septic shock brought on by the intestinal stenosis.
O'Rourke was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery on February 5, 1988. Her tomb is a scheduled stop for "Haunted Hollywood" tours.
Lawsuit [ ]
On May 25, 1988, Sanford M. Gage, the O'Rourke family attorney, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego. O'Rourke had been seen by doctors at Kaiser since birth, and the suit claimed that they failed to properly diagnose her long-standing small-bowel obstruction: had they not simply treated her for Crohn's disease with prescription drugs, she could have been cured by means of a simple operation; and this misdiagnosis caused O'Rourke's death. Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Janice Seib responded: "We have reviewed the case extensively, and we believe that the diagnosis and the course of action taken by our physicians was entirely appropriate. It's a very complex case, complicated by a number of factors, and not given to any simple answers." The case went to arbitration and was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Lasting ramifications [ ]
O'Rourke's death complicated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's marketing for her last work, Poltergeist III , out of fear of appearing to be exploiting her death. Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen, O'Rourke's co-stars, were discouraged from giving interviews about the film to avoid questions about her death. O'Rourke died four months before the theatrical release of Poltergeist III, which was dedicated to her memory.
O'Rourke's death (as well as four others) has been attributed to a supposed curse on the Poltergeist films and those associated with them; this urban legend supposedly stems from a real human skeleton used as a prop in the first film. According to backstage personnel, the ghost of O'Rourke herself haunts Paramount Pictures' stage #19, where she filmed episodes of Happy Days.
On September 26, 2008, DirecTV began airing a national TV advertisement developed by Deutsch; directed by Erich Joiner and cinematographed by Daniel Mindel, the advert features O'Rourke's famous "They're here!" scene from Poltergeist blended with contemporary footage of her co-star, Craig T. Nelson, intended to mimic the film. After the advertisement drew criticism from bloggers and columnists for exploiting O'Rourke, DirecTV responded in a Q&A session with readers of The New York Times. Jon Gieselman, DirecTV's senior vice president for advertising and public relations, explained that O'Rourke's family "was involved in the spot from start to finish [and that] Heather’s mother not only approved, [...] she also commented that Heather’s inclusion was a wonderful tribute to her daughter."
Filmography [ ]
External links [ ].
- 1 Pinky Tuscadero
- 2 Leather Tuscadero
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
The Tragic Real-Life Story Of The Poltergeist Cast
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Sad Discovery Made In Poltergeist Star Heather O'Rourke's Autopsy Report
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.
Top Lawyer Confirms ‘Poltergeist’ Child Actor Killed by Hollywood Pedophile Ring
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.
The 'Poltergeist' Curse: Inside the Mysterious Cast Deaths and Oddities On Set
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.
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, 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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Cast & crew, tobe hooper, jobeth williams, craig t. nelson, beatrice straight, heather o'rourke, dominique dunne, photos & videos, technical specs.
In her family's suburban home, ghosts begin communicating with five-year-old Carol Anne through the static on the television screen. At first the spirits seem to be friendly, but using the television as their portal to enter the house, they kidnap Carol Anne. As her desperate family tries to rescue the little girl, they are terrorized by the ghosts and their the demonic leader, The Beast.
Jaimi gendian, sonny landham, clair leucart, richard broyles, marty casella, noel conlon, james karen, oliver robins, philip stone, craig simmons, virginia kiser, dana gendian, jeff bannister, michael l mcmanus, william vail, richard lawson, dirk blocker, lou perryman, helen baron, richard l anderson, charles bailey, david berry, marty brenneis, richard l calkins, martha cargrill, bobby e clark, donald clark, samuel comstock, charles demuth, richard edlund, judy elkins, jeannie epper, jane feinberg, mike fenton, rick fichter, richard fields, stephen hunter flick, cindy folkerson, barbara gallucci, donna garrett, steve gawley, jerry goldsmith, michael grais, kenneth hall, toby heindel, karl herrmann, robert herron, alan howarth, paul huston, jeff jarvis, jerry jeffress, martha johnson, dennis e jones, eddie jones, michael kahn, cheryal kearney, james keefer, kathleen kennedy, kim knowlton, neil krepela, ann lambert, dick lasley, kathryn lenihan, matthew f. leonetti, john linder, marci liroff, harry v lojewski, michael mackenzie, mark mangini, frank marshall, scott marshall, steve maslow, dennis matsuda, bill matthews, bruce v. mcbroom, christi mccarthy, marghe mcmahon, arthur morton, lisa jean mower, bruce nicholson, kevin o'connell, ease owyeung, paula paulson, dorothy pearl, gary platek, craig raiche, glenn randall, craig reardon, christopher reynolds, bruce richardson, arthur rochester, nilo rodis-jamero, john roesch, tom rosseter, michael shannon, felix silla, grant smith, thomas smith, buffy snyder, david sosalla, james spencer, steven spielberg, howard stein, mitch suskin, marc thorpe, marion tumen, bill varney, jim veilleux, laurie vermont, edward s verreaux, mark victor, arthur vitello, toni-ann walker, chuck waters, beverly webb, george wilbur, terry windell, photo collections.
Best sound effects sound editing, best visual effects.
Released in United States June 1982
Released in United States Summer June 4, 1982
Released in USA on video.
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Home » Entertainment » How Heather O’Rourke died, the Poltergeist girl who was chased by a cursed halo
How Heather O’Rourke died, the Poltergeist girl who was chased by a cursed halo
“I hope people enjoy what I do. that would make me happy because I would be giving pleasure to others while doing something I like. Heather O’Rourke always thought of the other. the girl in the movie Poltergeist every time she gave an interview, she talked about what a partner she was with her mom and how well she got along with her sister.
Everything was happiness for her until a bad medical diagnosis caused the tragedy . At the age of 12, the protagonist of one of the most important horror hits died of a strange health problem that was not detected in time. Her loss was painful for Hollywood because her future was immense, as is his charisma.
I also read: The curse of “Poltergeist”: a femicide, the tragic fate of the leading girl and a hellish filming
The film in which he had starred -which these days returns to theaters after completing 40 years of its making- received the nickname “damn” for its cast due to different tragic circumstances that surrounded it: the crime of Dominique Dunne , another of its protagonists; the use of real skeletons in filming; and the fatal fate of some secondary actors.
Who was Heather O’Rourke, the girl from “Poltergeist”
Heather Michel O’Rourke She was born on December 27, 1975. Her mom, Kathleen O’Rourke, had no idea she was carrying two babies in her womb until she miscarried and continued to show signs of pregnancy. That’s where she realized I was expecting another baby.
According to the official biography posted on the web, Heather spent much of her early years in Santee, a small town east of San Diego. Her father was a carpenter, while her mother worked cleaning houses a few hours a day to help the family economy .
the protagonist of Poltergeist he had an older sister, Tammy, who was the first to enter show business. Between dance and tap classes, she won a beauty pageant that showcased her talent. Her mom took her to different castings and she got to act in The Tim Conway Show from CBS .
But Heather also liked the same thing. That’s why Tammy’s representative he warned his mother and, very quickly, he began his journey through some advertisements for toys, shops and burger joints.
One thing led to another and Tammy managed to be in another production, this time from the MGM call Pennies from Heaven . Because Heather was too young to go to school, her mother took her with her to her sister’s rehearsals and filming. It was in a dining room of the study when little she came across the man who was going to discover her: nothing more and nothing less than Steven Spielberg.
How he came to the success of “Poltergeist”
At 5 years old, Heather O’Rourke Shortly after starting kindergarten, I had already worked in well-remembered advertisements in the United States and had made his first appearance in a series with a large audience: The fantasy island.
As her mother searched for a future for her, Heather found it in the most unlikely way. A fortuitous crossroads with one of the most important directors in the industry allowed the girl to become the face of one of the most important horror movies in history .
Steven Spielberg, who produced Poltergeist , had not yet found in 1980 the girl who was going to be the great star of the cast. She considered the possibility that Drew Barrymore will act there, but he preferred that he do it in E.T. The two films have a history in common by location and production.
One noon, Spielberg observed her alone in the dining room of the MGM studios, where her sister was recording. Pennies from Heaven . The director asked if he could sit next to her. “I am not allowed to talk to strangers” said Heather, which touched the director even more.
When her sister and mother arrived, she told her that she was looking for a girl for a movie she was making, although Heather’s age did not seem to fit the role. She thanked and left. But the next day, Spielberg returned, says the official biography of the actress: he tried to do a “screaming test.” A) Yes, landed in one of the films with the most horrifying personal stories in the world of entertainment .
The curse surrounding “Poltergeist”
After its premiere in 1982, Poltergeist accumulated violent situations, tragedies and weaved a supernatural halo which fueled the myth that the feature film directed by Tober Hooper and produced by Steven Spielberg He is one of the most cursed in Hollywood.
the plot of Poltergeist It’s not conventional at all. A middle-class family moves to a house in a suburb which is in full expansion. As the days go by they begin to experience different supernatural phenomena related to the place where the property was installed: under that construction there was a cemetery and the bodies were never removed .
The plot, little explored at the time, was the key to making the film a rage. With just over 10 million budget, raised almost 80 million only in the United States . It was an extraordinary number for the genre.
Spielberg supervised every moment of the shoot that had complex instances: the handling of the group by the special effects, the containment of the children who were the main figures and supervision of some situations that were lived on the set with the director.
The director had hired his colleague after having seen one of the most important independent films in the horror universe, from 1974, as The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (in Argentina translated on VHS as The crazy man with the chainsaw ).
Yes ok never exposed it , behind the scenes, something was making noise to the filmmaker, who was taking more and more preponderance in decision making day after day. One of the reasons was very clear: Hopper’s visible cocaine addiction which was seen past.
Among the chilling stories surrounding the film, there are two, in addition to O’Rourke’s death, that take precedence: the brutal femicide of Dominique Dunne one of the leading actresses who was strangled by her ex-partner in the best moment of his career; and the use of real skeletons instead of rubber in one of the final scenes, confirmed by the protagonist herself, JoBeth Williams.
This was the tragic death of Heather O’Rourke
After the completion of Poltergeist Heather’s life forever changed . His works slowly began to grow and his face appeared in the series Happy Days , Webster , Still the Beaver . All the productions were successful. to his role as Carol Anne Freeling he didn’t put it aside. In 1986 he did Poltergeist II and, two years later, in 1988, filming began on what would be his posthumous film: Poltergeist III.
Heather’s health problems started in January 1987 , when he suffered the swelling of his legs, from one moment to the next, in addition to a severe feverish state. The doctors who saw her at that time they thought it was a flu but upon perceiving that the symptoms continued, they determined that the girl suffered from Crohn’s disease a disorder that affects the digestive system.
With a treatment for that problem, Heather began to improve, but the shooting of the third part of Poltergeist It was not altogether easy for her to carry: in some scenes, even the poor condition of his face is noticeable.
O’Rourke’s discomforts continued and deepened when the film’s shooting ended. February 1, 1988 Heather O’Rourke woke up very bad: pale and with abnormal breathing. Her mother and her stepfather rushed her to the hospital. She could not get out of the ferocious septic condition that she was facing.
According to the official biography, the girl had a obstruction in the small intestine that got infected and burst. As this occurred, the infectious contents spilled into Heather’s abdomen and the bacteria entered her bloodstream, where they rapidly multiplied and spread throughout her body. This caused him to go into septic shock.
Heather underwent surgery to counteract the problem that compromised her health , but it was too late. At 2:43 p.m. that day, Heather O’Rourke died. I was 12 years old. Any type of malpractice was never determined in Justice, but the initial diagnosis would not have been wrong, possibly the girl’s parents would have anticipated any situation like the one that occurred.
Heather’s memory has always remained in the Hollywood environment, even in the present, 40 years after the premiere of Poltergeist . Your partner Oliver Robbins, who embodied the brother in fiction, spoke in 2015 with the Daily Mail and brought to mind his name. “It was one precocious and very intelligent girl for someone who was only five years old,” he said.
I also read: Anna Nicole Smith, the Playboy bunny who died depressed: overdose, addictions and the inheritance she lost
This is evidenced by the desires that Heather herself had. With just a few years, she liked to be in front of the screen, but also behind it. “I want to continue acting, but I want to be a director. It is a different experience to work behind the scenes, ”she completed. Unfortunately, Heather O’Rourke was never able to fulfill all of those dreams: his life was cut short and surrounded by the same cursed halo which had the very plot of the movie that launched her to fame.
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“Poltergeist Girl” Christina Boyer’s Terrifying True Story Coming To Hulu In August: How To Watch ‘Demons And Saviors’
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ABC News has released the trailer for its forthcoming true crime docuseries, Demons and Saviors , which is slated to debut on Hulu on August 3.
The three-part series tells the fascinating story of Christina Boyer, a child media sensation who was dubbed “poltergeist girl” and later convicted of murdering her three-year-old daughter.
Thirty years into a life sentence, Christina still proclaims her innocence. It’s a story you’re not going to want to miss!
The series explores Christina’s troubled upbringing, her alleged telekinetic abilities, and the questions that remain about her daughter’s death. It centers on a team of amateur sleuths who are fully dedicated to exonerating her by separating truth from conspiracy.
Featuring real images and footage as well as interviews and reenactments, the riveting title is sure to make the viewer question whether or not there was an evil presence in Boyer’s life.
You can check out the trailer for Demons and Saviors above.
The highly anticipated docuseries was directed by Alex Waterfield and Rochelle Widdowson, and produced by Latchkey Films along with ABC News Studios.
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An earlier version of this story omitted Rochelle Widdowson , the co-director of the film.
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