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Heather O'Rourke

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Heather O'Rourke Biography and Filmography
Heather O'Rourke
Birthday: December 27, 1975
Birth Place: San Diego, California, USA
Height: 0' 0"
Below is a complete filmography (list of movies he's appeared in)
for Heather O'Rourke.
If you have any corrections or additions, please email us.
We'd also be interested in any trivia or other information you have.
Born Heather Michele O'Rourke on 27 December 1975 in Santee, San Diego, California, Heather entered American cinematic pop-culture before she entered 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 "Still the Beaver" (1985) (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 temporarily stopped 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.
Poltergeist III (1988)
[ Lara Flynn Boyle ][ Nancy Allen ]
Bad Poetry (1986)
Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986)
[ Jo Beth Williams ]
Around the Bend (1986)
Surviving (1985)
[ Molly Ringwald ][ Ellen Burstyn ]
Second Time Around (1983)
Katherine's Swan Song (1983)
Babysitting (1983)
[ Erin Moran ]
I'm Not at Liberty (1983)
Nervous Romance (1983)
I Drink, Therefore I Am (1983)
[ Crystal Bernard ][ Marion Ross ]
Massarati and the Brain (1982)
[ Markie Post ][ Ann Turkel ][ Greta Blackburn ]
Poltergeist (1982)
[ Jo Beth Williams ][ Dominique Dunne ]
  • 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 earings. 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 homelife 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.
  • She died while on hiatus from filming Poltergeist III (1988), her final movie, which is dedicated to her memory. She was replaced with a blonde stand-in.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Was a straight A student throughout her entire school-going career
  • Her favorite movie of all time was Disney's Dumbo (1940) and her favorite movie she appeared in was the original Poltergeist (1982).
  • Her favorite TV shows were Three's Company and Benny Hill
  • 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 was 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 script aloud
  • Planned to attend college at UCLA and major in filmmaking
  • Of Danish-Irish descent and heritage
  • 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.

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