On Monday, February 1, 1988, Heather, who lived with her parents both in San Diego and Big Bear, complained of stomach pains. She was rushed to Children’s Hospital of San Diego. During surgery she died of cardiac and pulmonary arrest. It was identified that she had been suffering from a severe bowel obstruction, a result of a congenital birth defect. The obstruction led to an infection, which in turn caused septic shock. The shock triggered her death. She was buried in Los Angeles’ Westwood Memorial Park in a vault on the first outdoor mausoleum wall. Poltergeist III was released four months after her death and was a box-office bust. Heather was the second Poltergeist star to die. In 1982, 22-year old Dominique Dunne, who played her older sister in that movie, was strangled to death by her estranged boyfriend.
We Miss You Heather O’Rourke
Her discovery was right out of a fairy tale. She was eating lunch in the MGM commissary with her sister (Tammy) and mother when Steven Spielberg approached their table. He was looking for a child and was not having much luck, he spotted Heather and approached there table. Heather was more interested in lunch than in the stranger who was talking to them. Heather initially failed the screen test for Poltergeist I (1981) when laughed instead of being afraid at a stuffed animal. Steven thought she was just too young. Heather was 5. He wanted a six year old. (Cinefantasque -July 1988) He saw something in her, and called her back asking her to bring a scary storybook. He asked her to scream, and she screamed and screamed, until she started to cry and couldn’t do it anymore. (Cinefantasque -1988) She had the part after the second screen test. Incidentally, it was Drew Barrymore who Steven was originally considering for the part. During all the horrors that proceeded during the filming of Poltergeist, the only one scene that really scared her was the scene in her bedroom where she had to hold on to the headrest while the wind blew, toys flew about and the closet opened up behind her. She fell apart and Steven stopped everything, put her in his arms, and said she did not have to do the scene again.( Cinefantasque July 1988) Over the next few years, Heather became a familiar face on t.v. and at the movies. She made guest appearances in Happy Days -1982 (Heather Pfizer), Chips-1982 (Loren), Fantasy Island (character unknown), TV movie – Maserati and The Brain 1984(character unknown), Rocky Road-1984 (character unknown, she played a Texan’s daughter) Webster-1983, TV movie-Surviving-1985 (this was quite possibly the most exciting aspect of her career, the role was major and we got to see her in a role outside of Poltergeist), Our House-1986 (Dana, she was a blind girl), New Leave it to Beaver-1986 (Heather, she had a real nasty character in this one.) and of course Poltergeist I, II, III (Carol Anne) In real life, Heather loved to go shopping, but according to her mother Kathy (interview on Current Affair), shopping with her was a tremendous effort. Heather had to have everything match, from shoes to earrings. Heather loved to make and eat sweets. For a pet, she had a St. Bernhard. She was the student body leader of her school. (Current Affair interview) And in her words “I never watch horror films as a rule. (Current Affair interview, footage taken before death). Heather would also make home movies and she was leaning more toward directing than acting. (Current Affair) Cast mates described Heather as having a calming influence in the set (Cinefantastique, July 1988). They also described cast meetings with her, everyone would be quickly leafing through the the script, while Heather was sitting calmly. Being able to memorize 60 pages a script in an hour (Odessa American newspaper article, Feb 2, 1988), she had already memorized the script. During the filming of Poltergeist III, Heather suffered flu like symptoms. They took her to a specialist but they still did not catch the intestinal blockage that would eventually claim her life. On the night of January 30, she woke up and crawled into bed with parents, (Globe Magazine, Feb. 16, 1988) complaining that she didn’t feel well. She got up the next day, tried to eat some toast, saying that she was going to school. She then fainted. Her fingers turning blue. They flew her in to the emergency room, but it was too late, she died on the operating table at 2:43 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 1st, 1988.
My First Barbie Advertisment- 1980
Making Of Poltergeist- 1982
Fantasy Island- 1982
McDonald’s Commercial- 1982
Happy Days- 1982-83
Maserati and the brain- 1982
Matt Housten- 1983
Believe you can and you can- 1983
Strawberry Shortcake Com- 1984
Finder of lost lovers- 1984
Poltergeist II- 1986
Our house- 1986
Still the beaver- 1986-87
Poltergeist III- 1988 (last Perfomance)
Heather died (1) week before the film was finished.
Poltergeist III was released (4) months later.
Poltergeist is a big, special-effects-laden production that’s long on time and short on human interest. When a typical husband and wife (Craig T. Nelson and JoBeth Williams) and their children move into the suburban home of their dreams, they find it instead to be the stuff of nightmares as weird happenings abound. The television begins to take control of their youngest child (Heather O’Rourke) and eventually pulls her through the screen. A diminutive medium (Zelda Rubenstein) informs them their house is built on the hub of a Native American burial site, and together they work to extract the child from the spirit world. Too tame for most adult horror fans, Poltergeist is still too scary for children. ~ Jeremy Beday, All Movie Guide
One of the more effectively spooky and financially successful horror films of the ’80s got an inevitable sequel with this effects-heavy installment. The Freeling family is trying to grapple with the devastation wrought by the ghosts and ghouls that destroyed their lives. The insurance company doesn’t believe their story about what happened to their house, so Steve (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams) and their kids, Carol Anne (Heather O’Rourke) and Robbie (Oliver Robins), have been reduced to living in the home of Diane’s mother, Jess (Geraldine Fitzgerald). Unfortunately for the Freelings, however, their new residence, just like their last, is situated on a haunted patch of unholy ground. A century before, the mad cult leader Kane (Julian Beck) slaughtered his followers nearby, and his evil spirit has returned in an effort to kidnap Carol Anne. When the Freelings realize what’s happening, they call upon the psychic medium Tangina Barrons (Zelda Rubinstein) to help them again, and they also receive aid from a kindly Native American spiritualist, Taylor (Will Sampson). Noticeably absent from the sequel was older daughter Dana, who had been played by actress Dominique Dunne. Dunne was killed in 1982 by her obsessed boyfriend. ~ Karl Williams, All Movie Guide
Evil spirits follow a young girl from the suburbs to the city in the second follow-up to the blockbuster horror film Poltergeist. Carol Anne Freeling (Heather O’Rourke) is now 12 years old and living with Patricia and Bruce Gardner (Nancy Allen and Tom Skerritt), her aunt and uncle, in a high-rise apartment building in downtown Chicago. Carol Anne attends a school for gifted children, where the staff psychologist Dr. Seaton (Richard Fire) attributes her past troubles with noisy ghosts to mass delusions and hypnotic suggestions. However, Carol Anne isn’t so sure that the explanation is that simple, especially since she still sees threatening apparitions in the mirrors of her apartment. Particularly troubling is the ghost of the wicked Reverend Kane (Nathan Davis), who is eager for Carol Anne to join him and his followers in the unknown world on the other side of the light. Sadly, Heather O’Rourke died due to surgical complications resulting from an intestinal blockage several months before Poltergeist III was released. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
One of the saddest stories was that of stage 19 and the ghost of a little girl. Stage 19 was the host to he ever popular “Happy Days” during its long run. It brought a lot of laughter and happiness to the nation and the world. Even though it was one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, a piece of tragedy lingered with it. Years after “Happy Days” had gone, one of its cast members lingered behind. A security officer was patrolling the sound stage as part of her usual route. She went inside to make sure that everything was locked down air tight for the night. The rafters were checked, the stage was patrolled, and the doors were locked. As the officer was preparing to leave, she saw a bright light coming from behind her. No one was in the sound stage with her. No one was there to work the lights on the catwalk. She started to get scared. Upon turning around, the guard gazed up on the ghost of little Heather O’Rourke staring her down. Heather appeared on the last couple of seasons of “Happy Days” as the daughter of Fonzie’s girlfriend. She also appeared as the angelic “Carol Anne” in the doomed “Poltergeist” movies. Heather died on the operating table due to complications of both the operation and a birth defect. The security officer was in shock. Here was this beautiful little ghost staring her straight in the face. Calmly, coolly, the officer took out her trusty radio and proceeded to scream. Over every radio that night were the cries of “Oh my God! She’s here! Someone, quick, get over here! Oh my God! Oh my God!” Maybe this reaction scared Heather, for she never appeared again. — Written completely by Hatex
Q: “Ghost Story” on this site a true story?
A: The Ghost Story of Heather was supplied by Hatex. The story was never confirmed true nor do we know where Hatex got the story.
Q: How did Heather O’Rourke Die?
A: Heather O’Rourke died of cardiac and pulmonary arrest. It was identified that she had been suffering from a severe bowel obstruction, a result of a congenital birth defect. The obstruction led to an infection, which in turn caused septic shock.
Q: Where is Heather O’Rourke buried?
A: Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park and Mortuary 1218 Glendon Ave Los Angeles , CA 90024
This site is dedicated to Heather O’Rourke. This page was intended for personal information only. Some of the information found on this page is written & supplied by Artcurus.