HEATHER FAQ

Q: Who was Heather O'Rourke?

A: Heather Michele O'Rourke was a child actress in the late 70's and 80's. She is well known for her role in Stephen Speilberg's 1981 horror classic, "Poltergeist". She played Carol Anne Freeling, a little girl who is abducted by spirits in her own home. She made the line "They're here!" a well known catch fraise in that movie.
Heather went on to guest star in many popular tv shows including "Happy Days", and "Leave It To Beaver". She also did 2 more Poltergeist movies. Sadly, Poltergeist 3 would be her last performance. The undetected illness she had had since birth took it's toll on her before the movie was finished being filmed. Heather passed away at the young age of 12.

Q: How old was Heather when she started acting?

A: Heathers very first tv spot was in a McDonald's commercial. At age four, she did a bigger role playing an 'unborn child' on "Fantasy Island". Heather's first major role came when she stared in "Poltergeist".

Q: How was Heather O'Rourke "discovered"?

A: Heather was discovered by Stephen Speilberg while she was eating a BLT in a MGM studios cafeteria. Speilberg was looking for a young girl to star in his movie "Poltergeist". He was originaly considering Drew Barrymore for the part but that changed when he saw little Heather. He thought she was perfect for the role.

Q: How many movies was Heather O'Rourke in?

A: The only actual movies Heather made were Poltergeist 1, 2, and 3. The rest of her performances were commercials and tv roles.

Q: What else was Heather in besides Poltergeist?

A: Heather did many commercials in her time including some for McDonald's, Long John Silver's, & Strawberry Shortcake. Some of her TV roles included playing Heather Phister on Happy Days, Heather Montgomery in The New Leave It To Beaver, Melanie in Webster, and many more.

Q: When did Heather die and how?

A: Heather passed away on February 1, 1988 at Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego, California.
The final cause of death was determined to be "cardio-respiratory arrest" (heart failure and cessation of breathing) secondary to "septic shock" resulting from a bacterial infection that had started in her small intestine, which had become obstructed. When the intestine burst, the toxins produced by the infection entered her bloodstream and overwhelmed her system within a few hours.
During the emergency surgery to save Heather's life, it was discovered that a section of her small intestine was malformed, and probably was the result of a previously unknown birth defect. The narrowed condition (stenosis) of the intestine had been a contributing factor to the formation of the blockage.

Q: Was the "wrongful death" lawsuit ever settled?

A: The suit was settled out-of-court, and because of certain stipulations, the amount of damages awarded to Heather’s family, as well as details of the suit, remain confidential.

Q: What types of illnesses did Heather have?

A: While she was living in Big Bear Lake in the winter of 1986/87, Heather got an intestinal infection that was caused by a parasitic organism called "Giardia lamblia". She was treated with "Flagyl" (Metronidazole), an antibiotic, and the infection was cured. After follow-up exams, she was diagnosed with "Crohn" disease, a chronic inflammation of the intestine, and her treatment consisted of immunosuppressive and anti-inflammatory medications that she took while the filming of Poltergeist III progressed. When the Crohn disease went into remission, the medications were discontinued and Heather was apparently healthy and remained free of symptoms until a few days before her death.

Q: Why didn't anyone know Heather was so sick?

A: Until a few days before her death, Heather had been symptom-free for more than 6 months since her previous illness was diagnosed and treated, and even though she had experienced discomfort due to her prior intestinal troubles, the sudden illness that caused her death was an entirely new condition with signs and symptoms that neither she, nor her family, were familiar with. The Friday before her death, she began to feel slightly ill, and mentioned it to her sister who believes that even though Heather seldom complained about feeling sick, she would not have “held back” if she really were. It is possible that no one (including Heather herself) recognized the seriousness of her condition until it was too late.

Q: Why is Heather's voice different in "Surviving"?

A: One account states that in post-production, Heather's voice was somehow lost and a "voice-over" had to be done by a 22-year-old woman in falsetto. This "rumour" has yet to be verified as fact though.

Q: Were there any roles Heather lost or didn't get?

A: Only two are currently known: The part of VICKI, the robot-girl in the TV Series, “Small Wonder”, which went to Tiffany Brissette, and Alice in CBS' 1985 TV movie "Alice's Adventures Through The Looking Glass", which Heather had initially signed on for but later turned down when CBS attempted to renegotiate her salary to an amount lower than their original offer. The part eventually went to Natalie Gregory.

Q: Did Heather make a lot of money as an actress?

A: Heather was paid well enough to form a corporation in her name to manage her assets and to make any corporate purchases or investments, such as their property in Big Bear Lake. “The Heather O’Rourke Estate” still exists today and is managed (with its website, which is currently being updated) by Heather’s family.

Q: Who were Heather's pallbearers?

A: Gary Sherman (directed her in Poltergeist III), Tom Skerrit, (Poltergeist III co-star) Kipley Wentz (Poltergeist III co-star), Henry Winkler (Happy Days co-star), Bob Preston (her long-time manager), and Michael Meyer (her former, long-time agent)

Q: What were Heather's hobbies?

A: Among her many hobbies were doll collecting (she had a large "Cabbage Patch" collection), sewing, writing, baking and candy-making, and reading, to name but a few.

Q: Did Heather have any "nicknames"?

A: Her family has mentioned only two: "Heath", and "Bernie"; a lifelong endearment given to her by her maternal grandfather when she was born.

Q: Was Heather "small" for her age?

A: According to Heather's sister, "petiteness" runs in their family among the women, with all their heights averaging about five feet.

Q: How old was Heather when she died?

A: Heather had just turned twelve on Dec. 27, 1987, and passed away little more than a month later on February 1, 1988. Had she lived, she would be twenty-eight today.

Q: Why did Heather look "strange" in Poltergeist III?

A: Heather had been diagnosed with "Crohn disease" shortly before filming started, and the side-effects of the steroid medication that she was taking made her cheeks puffy and her skin very pale.

Q: Is there really a "Poltergeist Curse"?

A: Some people believe so, especially after seeing the E! Television program with the title: "The Curse Of Poltergeist".

Q: Where is Heather O'Rourke buried?

A: Heather was laid to rest at Pierce Bros. Memorial Park in Westwood Village near Los Angeles, California. Her tomb is on the outside wall of the mausoleum named "Tenderness". The cemetery is open to the public.

Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary 1218 Glendon Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90024

Above is the address of Heather's Resting Place All Q & A is courtisy of Heather O'Rourke: The Memorial Site