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At a very young age, Heather O’Rourke rose to enormous fame. Heather was on her way to having a fantastic career when she starred in the well-known horror film Poltergeist. Sadly, she, unfortunately, died at the young age of 12.

The circumstances surrounding O’Rourke’s death were and remain incredibly unclear. Many people think the movie is plagued by the “Hollywood curse” because several other stars died while working on it.

What transpired with Heather O’Rourke, then? And how was her brief life? You can find out everything about her here.


Heather O'Rourke Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

The life of Heather O’Rourke fell into utter tragedy. As a young child, the little girl rose to fame; however, when she was 12 years old, she passed away in amazing circumstances.

Heather O’Rourke: early life

On December 27, 1975, Heather Michele O’Rourke was born in Santee, San Diego, California. Her father, Michael O’Rourke, worked as a construction worker, while her mother, Kathleen, was a seamstress.

Hollywood is full of exciting tales about how actors and actresses are found. After years of appearing in commercials or modeling, some people achieve fame. Others attended different acting and drama schools and then moved to Hollywood. However, some people had excellent luck, like the famous Michael Landon, who was found while working at a gas station.

In a sense, it was comparable for Heather O’Rourke. She was, however, a lot younger. But even though it was a unique tale, it was still well-known.


Tammy, her older sister, was cast as a dancer in the movie Pennies from Heaven. Heather and her mother were having lunch at the MGM Commissary as they waited for Tammy when something happened that would forever alter her life.

Steven Spielberg was in the process of producing a new horror movie. He was looking for a four-year-old actress to play the lead role in the film, Poltergeist.

Heather O'Rourke Youtube/dollxiao

Some people might believe in fate, while others might not. But this time, the coincidence was just too incredible to be real.

Meeting with Steven Spielberg for the first time.

Spielberg thought he might have found his star when he saw Heather O’Rourke waiting for her mother. She refused to visit his office when he asked her to because she wasn’t supposed to chat with strangers. But as soon as her mother showed up, Heather’s acting skills were tested.

“I went to his office, and he wanted me to be afraid of this pink fish and this purple pig and all that, and I thought it was hilarious, and I left,” Heather O’Rourke recalled the first meeting with Steven Spielberg. “And he told me to come back the next day.”


There were numerous posters in Spielberg’s office corridor when Heather and her mother returned for the second day of casting. They realized he was a well-known director and producer at that moment.

Heather brought a scary storybook with her on the second day since Spielberg had noticed something about her. He made her scream, and Heather screamed until she started crying.

Spielberg informed Heather O’Rourke at the studio the following day that he couldn’t let her lose the part.

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“I don’t know what it is about her, but she’s got the job,” he told them, as quoted by IMDB.

“It was a part for a 6-year-old, and I was only 5.” But then he said later that I got the part. Just being lucky, I guess. Because I don’t know what he saw in me,” Heather said.

Steven Spielberg had another young girl in mind for the role. Drew Barrymore was the same age as Heather, but she didn’t get the part in the end. However, Spielberg liked Drew Barrymore and decided to cast her in the film E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, released in 1982.


Heather O’Rourke, “Poltergeist.”

The role of Heather O’Rourke in Poltergeist has been cast. A family with three children moves into a new home already occupied by ghosts in the now-famous horror movie. Carol Anne Freeling, the youngest kid, could hear the ghosts through the television, and in the movie, she is drawn into a portal to another world.

One of the most well-known movie quotes in a horror film was stated by O’Rourke, who played Carol Anne Freeling: “They’re here.”

Heather spent a lot of time with her cast mates while filming, notably actor Oliver Robbins, who played her brother Robbie.


Heather O'Rourke Youtube/dollxiao

He recalls the two behaving like brother and sister on set in an interview with the Daily Mail.

“She was precocious and a brilliant girl for someone only five years old,” Robbins said.

Overnight, she became a star.

Overnight, Heather O’Rourke rose to fame. Young Heather received a nomination for the Young Artist Award for Best Young Supporting Actress in Motion Picture when the movie became a huge blockbuster.

O’Rourke went on to play the lead in some other productions, including a 12-episode appearance in the television series Happy Days. Due to Heather’s increased income and enormous success, her family relocated from a trailer park to a three-bedroom house in Big Bear, California.

It’s important to remember that children are just that, even though they have the potential to become huge stars in the entertainment industry.


Like any other child, Heather lived with her family in Big Bear.

Heather revealed to The Sun in 1986, when she was in the fifth grade, that her classmates at Big Bear Elementary didn’t mind that she was a famous actress.

The adult admirers preferred that when she was recognized on the street, she spoke the well-known line “They’re here.”

Heather O'Rourke Photo by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

“They’ll look at me once, then ask me if I was the little girl in Poltergeist or on Happy Days,” Heather explained. “If they stare at me without saying anything, I think something’s wrong with my appearance.” But then I realize they’re staring at me because they recognize me.”

The mysterious death of Heather O’Rourke

When O’Rourke returned to the character in Poltergeist II in 1986 as a 12-year-old, she said, “They’re back.”

In 1988’s Poltergeist III, Heather returned to her role as Carol Anne Freeling. But by the time it was screened in theaters, Heather O’Rourke, 12 years old, had already passed away.

The industry was shocked by O’Rourke’s sudden passing, which was first surrounded by mysterious circumstances.


According to her mother, Kathleen, Heather’s first signs of illness appeared in January 1987. The child actress had begun feeling nauseous, and Kathleen decided to bring her to a Kaiser facility in San Diego.

“I had taken her to Kaiser three or four times that month,” Kathleen told People. “They kept telling me she had the flu.”

However, Heather O’Rourke felt terrible, and her feet began swelling. She was put in the hospital for several days to do tests. They soon discovered that the girl had a parasite named Giardia, and after getting medicine, she felt fine.


Heather O'Rourke Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer/Getty Images

O’Rourke was scheduled to begin filming Poltergeist III in Chicago in June of the following year. Kathleen chose to bring her baby back to the Kaiser clinic for a follow-up appointment because she viewed herself as an “overprotective mother.”

Suffered from septic shock.

Heather turned out to be in no way fine.

“They did an X-ray after giving her this chalky, white barium to drink,” Kathleen recalled. “And they found that the parasite cleared up, but there was still some inflammation.” “They called what they saw Crohn’s, and they put her on cortisone and sulfa.”

Without experiencing any symptoms, Heather filmed Poltergeist III, and by September 1987, she was again in good health. So they decided to travel to Disney World in Florida before returning to Los Angeles to celebrate the completion of filming and the young girl’s good health.

It appeared that Heather was doing well. Their daily routine went as follows: They had relocated to a brand-new, large, two-bedroom apartment in Lakeside, California.


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Heather O’Rourke awoke her mother on January 31, 1988. She stayed home from school because she was throwing up. Heather informed her mother the following day that she would have trouble swallowing her meal.

Heather O’Rourke, cause of death

“Then I noticed her fingers and toes were blue, and she started to breathe heavy, fast. And her stomach was distended. I called our local doctor, and his office said, ‘Bring her right in.’ About 20 seconds later, she fell to the floor. That’s when I called the paramedics,” Kathleen recalled.

Septic shock was what she had. When the paramedics arrived, she was still alive, and as they walked to the ambulance, Kathleen told her daughter how much she loved her.

Heather answered, “I love you too,” and that was the last thing she spoke.

Heather O’Rourke experienced a heart attack as the ambulance traveled toward the hospital. Despite the paramedics’ best efforts, she could not be revived.

She passed away suddenly when the surgeons were doing the surgery. She was only twelve years old. On February 5, 1988, a funeral service was performed in Los Angeles.


Heather O'Rourke

Ron Wolfson/WireImage

Intestinal stenosis, a severe bowel obstruction Heather O’Rourke had from birth, was determined to be the cause of death, as the Los Angeles Times reported. An infection brought on by the obstruction later led to septic shock.

“Poltergeist”—a Hollywood curse?

The news of Heather’s passing shocked the entertainment industry, and some even asserted that it was a Hollywood curse. She joined Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first film and died in 1982, as the second actress from the Poltergeist movies to pass away.

She was most pleased to be voted class president at Big Bear Elementary School, according to her former manager Mike Meyer, who spoke shortly after O’Rourke’s passing.

Nevertheless, after Heather’s passing, events changed. Kathleen O’Rourke brought a wrongful death claim against Southern California Permanente Medical Group and Kaiser Foundation Hospital. She asserted that it was incorrect when Heather was diagnosed with Chron’s disease, as reported by the A.P.

Although Heather O’Rourke lived a relatively brief life, her awful loss will never be forgotten. To honor her, kindly forward this story to your Facebook contacts.

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