Heather O’Rourke rose to prominence at a young age. Heather was on her way to having a fantastic career after starring in the well-known horror film Poltergeist. Unfortunately, she died when she was just 12 years old.
The circumstances behind O’Rourke’s death were and remain a mystery to this day. Many people believe the film is plagued by the “Hollywood curse,” as several other stars died while working on it.
So, where did Heather O’Rourke go? And how did she spend her brief existence? This is everything you need to know about her.
Heather O’Rourke’s life turned into a massive catastrophe. The young girl was already a celebrity when she was a toddler, but she died at the age of 12 in strange circumstances.
Heather O’Rourke’s childhood
Heather Michele O’Rourke was born in Santee, California, on December 27, 1975. Kathleen O’Rourke worked as a seamstress, while Michael O’Rourke worked as a construction worker.
In Hollywood, there are numerous interesting anecdotes about performers and actresses being found. After years of working advertisements or modeling work, some people got renowned. Others went to various drama and acting schools before eventually making it to Hollywood. Some, like the renowned Michael Landon, who was found while working at a gas station, were just lucky.
Heather O’Rourke experienced something similar. She was, however, much younger. Even though it was a one-of-a-kind story, it was nonetheless a classic.
Tammy, her older sister, had landed a dance role in the film Pennies From Heaven. Heather and her mother were enjoying lunch at the MGM Commissary while waiting for Tammy, and it changed her life forever.
Steven Spielberg was set to start work on a new horror film at the moment. Poltergeist was the title of the film, and he was looking for a four-year-old actress to play the lead role.
Some people believe in destiny, while others do not. This time, however, the coincidence was too good to be true.
Steven Spielberg’s first meeting
When Spielberg saw Heather O’Rourke waiting for her mother, he realized he’d found his star. She was invited into his office, but she refused at first because she wasn’t supposed to speak to strangers. Heather’s acting abilities were put to the test when her mother arrived.
“I went to his office, and he wanted me to be terrified of this pink fish, and this purple pig, and all that,” Heather O’Rourke remembered of her first meeting with Steven Spielberg. “And he told me to come back the next day,” says the narrator.
When Heather and her mother returned for the second day of casting, they discovered a plethora of posters in Spielberg’s office hallway. They realized he was a well-known filmmaker and producer at that moment.
Heather took a spooky tale with her on the second day since Spielberg had noticed something in her. Heather yelled until she burst into tears when he urged her to scream a lot.
Spielberg told Heather O’Rourke the next day at the studio that he couldn’t let her miss out on the part.
According to IMDB, he told them, “I don’t know what it is about her, but she’s got the job.”
“It was a 6-year-old part, and I was just 5-years-old.” But later, he said that I had gotten the part. I suppose it’s just luck. Because I’m not sure what he saw in me,” Heather explained.
For the part, Steven Spielberg had another little girl in mind. Drew Barrymore was Heather’s age when she auditioned, but she didn’t receive the part. Spielberg, on the other hand, liked Drew Barrymore and opted to cast her in the 1982 picture E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.
‘Poltergeist’ by Heather O’Rourke
Heather O’Rourke has been cast in the film Poltergeist. The now-legendary horror film follows a family of three children as they move into a new home that is already haunted by spirits. Carol Anne Freeling, the youngest kid, could hear the ghosts through the television and gets swept into a doorway to another world in the film.
Carol Anne Freeling was played by O’Rourke, who delivered one of the most famous movie lines ever: “They’re here.”
Heather spent a lot of time on set with her co-stars, notably Oliver Robbins, who played her brother, Robbie.
He recalls the two acting like brother and sister onset, according to the Daily Mail.
“For someone who was just five years old, she was precocious and a really brilliant youngster,” Robbins added.
Overnight, I was transformed into a celebrity.
Heather O’Rourke shot to fame in an instant. Heather was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Young Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture when the film became a smash hit.
O’Rourke went on to participate in several other productions, including a 12-episode stint on the television sitcom Happy Days. Heather and her family relocated from a trailer park to a three-bedroom house in Big Bear, California, as a result of their enormous success.
Even though children can grow up to be huge stars in the show industry, it’s important to remember that they are still children.
Heather, like any other child, lived in Big Bear with her family.
Heather told The Sun in 1986, when she was in fifth grade, that her Big Bear Elementary classmates didn’t seem to mind that she was a movie star.
Instead, when she was seen on the street, her adult followers wanted her to deliver the famous statement “They’re here.”
“They’ll give me a glance and then ask if I’m the little girl from Poltergeist or Happy Days,” Heather added. “I believe there is something wrong with my appearance if they stare at me without saying anything.” But then I notice they’re staring at me because they know who I am.”
Heather O’Rourke’s death remains a mystery.
O’Rourke reprised her part in the sequel Poltergeist II in 1986, when she was 12 years old, saying the phrase “They’re back.”
Heather reprised her role as Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist III, which was released in 1988. Heather O’Rourke had died at the age of 12 by the time the film was released in theatres.
The business was stunned by O’Rourke’s untimely death, which was initially surrounded by enigmatic circumstances.
Heather’s earliest symptoms of illness, according to her mother Kathleen, occurred in January 1987. Kathleen decided to take the young actress to a Kaiser facility in San Diego since she was feeling queasy.
Kathleen told People, “I had taken her to Kaiser three or four times that month.” “They kept telling me she had the flu,” says the narrator.
Heather O’Rourke, on the other hand, was in excruciating pain, and her feet began to swell. She was admitted to the hospital for a few days to undergo examinations. They immediately determined that the girl was infected with Giardia, and after receiving treatment, she felt much better.
Later that year, in June, O’Rourke was scheduled to begin filming Poltergeist III in Chicago. Kathleen, who considered herself an “overprotective mother,” chose to return to the Kaiser clinic with her daughter for a follow-up visit.
Experiencing septic shock
Heather turned out to be anything but fine.
Kathleen said, “After giving her this chalky, white barium stuff to swallow, they took an X-ray.” “They discovered that the parasite had cleared up, but that there was still some inflammation.” They diagnosed her with Crohn’s disease and placed her on cortisone and sulfa.”
Heather was able to film Poltergeist III without experiencing any symptoms, and by September of 1987, she was back to normal. So they decided to go to Disney World in Florida and then return to Los Angeles to celebrate the completion of filming – and the young girl’s good health.
Heather appeared to be in excellent health. They’d moved into a new two-bedroom apartment in Lakeside, California, and life went on as usual.
Heather O’Rourke awoke her mother on January 31, 1988. She stayed home from school because she was vomiting. Heather told her mother that the next day she couldn’t swallow her meal.
Heather O’Rourke’s cause of death is unknown.
“Then I realised her fingers and toes had become blue, and she began to breathe heavily and quickly.” Her stomach was also bloated. ‘Bring her right in,’ suggested our local doctor’s office when I called. She collapsed on the ground around 20 seconds later. Kathleen recounted, “That’s when I called the paramedics.”
She was in a state of septic shock. She was still alive when paramedics came, and on the way to the ambulance, Kathleen told her daughter how much she loved her.
Heather replied, “I love you, too,” and that was the last thing she spoke.
Heather O’Rourke went into cardiac arrest as the ambulance was driving towards the hospital. Despite the paramedics’ best efforts, she was unable to be revived.
While surgeons were performing the surgery, she suddenly away. She was only twelve years old at the time. The funeral was held in Los Angeles on February 5, 1988.
The cause of death was determined to be intestinal stenosis, a serious intestine obstruction that Heather O’Rourke had since birth, according to the Los Angeles Times at the time. The obstruction resulted in an infection, which led to septic shock.
Is ‘Poltergeist’ a Hollywood blight?
The news of Heather’s death stunned Hollywood, and some speculated that it was a Hollywood curse. After Dominique Dunne, who played the eldest daughter Dana in the first film, died in 1982, she became the second actress from the Poltergeist series to pass away.
Mike Meyer, O’Rourke’s former manager, said shortly after her death, “Of all the things she was proud of, she was happiest of being voted president of her fifth-grade class at Big Bear Elementary School.”
After Heather’s death, though, things took a new direction. Kathleen O’Rourke sued the Kaiser Foundation Hospital and the Southern California Permanente Medical Group for wrongful death. According to the Associated Press, she claimed Heather had been misdiagnosed when she was told she had Chron’s disease. Heather O’Rourke lived a short life, but her awful death will be remembered forever. To commemorate her, please share this story on Facebook with your friends and family.