Heather O'Rourke Poster


Jump to: Overview (5)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Trade Mark (2)  | Trivia (36)  | Personal Quotes (8)  | Salary (2)

Overview (5)

Born in San Diego, California, USA
Died in San Diego, California, USA  (cardiopulmonary arrest and intestinal stenosis)
Birth NameHeather Michele O'Rourke
Nicknames Bernie
Height 4' 8" (1.42 m)

Mini Bio (1)

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

Trade Mark (2)

Her blonde hair
Widely known and referred to as the Poltergeist (1982) girl

Trivia (36)

President of her class in the 5th grade.
Her mother claimed a wrong diagnosis was responsible for her death.
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)
In real life, she loved to go shopping. But according to her mother Kathy, shopping with Heather was a tremendous effort. The girl had to have everything match, from shoes to earrings. She also loved to make and eat sweets, and was the student-body president at her school. For a pet, she had a St. Bernard. Her home life did not, ironically, include the viewing of certain films...particularly not horror films.
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.
During the filming of Poltergeist III (1988), she suffered flu-like symptoms. The symptoms were a result of congenital intestinal stenosis (blockage), which ultimately claimed her life.
Performed from age 3 in numerous commercials before her Poltergeist (1982) role, most notably for Mattel and McDonalds. She started modeling in 1979 for Mattel "Tuff Stuff" Number Blocks.
As a gift from the crew, she got to keep the goldfish from Poltergeist (1982).
She grew very close to director Gary Sherman while filming Poltergeist III (1988), and was very proud of the fact that she performed all her own stuntwork for this movie.
Her last words were "I love you" spoken to her mother.
Never took acting classes.
Acted in her middle school Library/Literature Club's production of "'Twas The Night Before Christmas" in her nightgown with her favorite teddy bear in December of 1987.
Could read at age 5.
Never refused an autograph.
Rests in a mausoleum next to Truman Capote and Mel Tormé.
Tried out for the role of Vicki on Small Wonder (1985).
Born at 12:28 AM Pacific Standard Time.
Was a fraternal twin to an unborn baby brother.
Younger sister of actress Tammy O'Rourke.
Ranked #65 on VH1's '100 Greatest Kid Actors' special.
Her line, "They're here", ranked #69 on the 'AFI'S TOP 100 Movie Quotes' special which aired on CBS. She also holds the distinction of being the youngest (age 5 at the time) actor/actress to utter the line that made the list.
Upon further examination of her actual report cards over the years, she made C's and D's in her least liked subjects in school, math and science, but at the end of her life was a straight A student.
Her favorite movie of all time was Disney's Dumbo (1941), and her favorite movie she appeared in was the original Poltergeist (1982).
Her favorite TV shows were Three's Company (1976) and The Benny Hill Show (1969).
Some of her lesser known creative talents were calligraphy, drawing, baking, singing, and dancing.
Was an avid reader; her former 7th Grade English teacher honors this passion of hers by making all her students observe what she calls "Heather O'Rourke Love of Reading Week"; the last book she was reading was "Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl".
Astonished Steven Spielberg in his office during her initial interview with her ability to read the Poltergeist (1982) script aloud.
Planned to attend college at UCLA and major in filmmaking.
She had Irish, English, German, and Danish ancestry.
Mentioned in Denis Leary's "Downtrodden Song", the finale to his one-man show "No Cure For Cancer", where he names a bunch of famous people who died. He calls her "The chick from the Poltergeist movies".
Appeared on the doll box for Mattel's "My First Barbie" in 1980.
Heather's Poltergeist III (1988) co-star Tom Skerritt was one of her pallbearers at her funeral.
Is buried in the same cemetery as her Poltergeist (1982) co-star, Dominique Dunne.
Said that if she wasn't acting she would have liked to have been a nurse.
If she had lived, it is likely that she would have gone into directing films like she said she wanted to.
She had been getting tired of doing sequels to Poltergeist (1982) as she didn't want to be typecast. Said that if a Poltergeist IV would to happen it would have been her last film in the series.

Personal Quotes (8)

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.
[on the first two Poltergeist movies]: The first one I saw 12 times. The second one I only saw twice because I didn't think it was too great. I just thought it was too boring. You could fall asleep. It didn't excite me, it didn't even scare me. I don't think it would scare anyone. The first one really kept you going. It was exciting. Well, after you see it a lot of times, it isn't so much. But the first time you see it, it really jumps you.
I hope to do a different character some day. I'm tired of this one, kind of. If there is a sequel, a 'Poltergeist IV,' I hope it's the last.
My parents put everything in a trust fund for me. I won't get it until I'm 18, so I'll use it for college.

Salary (2)

Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986) $75,000
Poltergeist III (1988) $140,000

See also

Other Works |  Publicity Listings |  Official Sites

View agent, publicist, legal and company contact details on IMDbPro Pro Name Page Link

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed