Who was Heather O Rourke?
Heather O'Rourke was an American child actress, who, after being discovered by director Steven Spielberg, played Carol Anne Freeling in the horror movie ‘Poltergeist.’ She became known for saying the line, "They're here!" She reprised her role in the film’s second and third installments as well. O'Rourke was also known for making numerous television appearances as a guest. Born to a middle-class family, she attended Big Bear Elementary School. Her career as a child actress enabled her to earn a decent amount of money. Owing to her success, her family was able to purchase a house in Big Bear Lake, California. The little actress was a keen shopper. She also loved to make and sweets. A multitalented girl, she was skilled in drawing, calligraphy, singing, and dancing. O'Rourke was the student-body president in her elementary school as well. Unfortunately, the rising star met a tragic end at the young age of 12; she died of complications caused by a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis.
Heather O'Rourke was discovered by producer Steven Spielberg when she and her mother were having lunch in the MGM commissary while her sister Tammy was shooting for a movie. Spielberg quickly offered her the role of Carol Anne Freeling in his upcoming movie ‘Poltergeist’. The film, which was released in 1982, made her an instant child star. In 1982, O'Rourke was also cast in the recurring role of Heather Pfister in the television series ‘Happy Days’. The same year, she did the television film ‘Massarati and the Brain’ as well. In the ensuing year, she appeared in episodes of the TV series ‘CHiPs’, ‘Matt Houston’ and ‘Webster’.
In 1984, the little actress had a minor role in the TV program ‘Finder of Lost Loves’. Two years later, she reprised her role of Carol Anne Freeling in the sequel of ‘Poltergeist,’ titled ‘Poltergeist II: The Other Side’. O'Rourke also made a guest appearance in ‘The New Leave It to Beaver’ the same year. In 1987, she got featured in an episode each of ‘Our House’ and ‘Rocky Road’. A year later, she appeared in ‘Poltergeist III,’ the third installment of the Poltergeist film series. This movie was released posthumously.
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Family & Personal Life
Heather Michele O'Rourke was born on December 27, 1975 in San Diego, California, USA, to Michael and Kathleen. Her mother was a seamstress while her father worked as a carpenter. O'Rourke had an elder sister named Tammy, who was also an actress. Her parents divorced in 1981, following which her mother married Jim Peele, a part-time truck driver, in 1984. O'Rourke studied at Big Bear Elementary School. She planned to attend UCLA and major in filmmaking.
Illness & Death
O'Rourke suffered from giardiasis in 1987 and was later diagnosed with Crohn's disease. On January 31, 1988, she started vomiting and the following day, she collapsed. She suffered a cardiac arrest while being taken to the hospital. She had surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction caused by congenital stenosis of the intestine. However, the surgery did not help and the little girl died later that day. Her last words were "I love you," addressed to her dear mother. O'Rourke was buried at the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery.
The little actress never refused an autograph.
She was ranked at No 65 on VH1's list of '100 Greatest Kid Actors'.