Heather O'Rourke (December 27, 1975 - February 1, 1988) was an American child actress who starred in the Poltergeist movie trilogy.
Heather O'Rourke was born in San Diego, California. She was discovered in the Summer of 1980 by Steven Spielberg while she was eating lunch at the MGM Studios Commissary with her mother and older sister Tammy O'Rourke, a dancer. Spielberg was looking for someone to play the part of 5-year-old "Carol-Anne Freeling" in his upcoming production of Poltergeist. He originally thought that she was too young for the part (she was four at the time) but after an interview and a "scream test", he cast her in the role.
Poltergeist was released in June 1982, and Heather's line: "They're he-eere!" entered American pop culture.
Her success in Poltergeist immediately led to television work, and in 1982-1983 she was briefly a regular on the sitcom Happy Days, playing the daughter of Fonzie's girlfriend.
In 1986, Poltergeist II was released, and once again, Heather coined another pop culture phrase, when she said "They're ba-aaack!"
Heather began filming Poltergeist III in 1987, and the movie was set to be released in 1988. Principal photography on the film lasted between April-June 1987, and by all accounts she finished her work on the film.
On the morning of Monday, February 1, 1988, Heather became ill suddenly and was rushed to the hospital where it was discovered that she had developed an acute bowel obstruction. Despite surviving emergency surgery, Heather died of multiple complications caused primarily by septic shock resulting from the obstruction and ensuing infection. She was only 12 years old. MGM decided to re-shoot the ending of "Poltergeist III" in March of 1988 using a body double stand in. The director of the film, Gary Sherman, claims this re-shoot never took place, and that in fact Heather died "before they could film the original ending." However, the majority of credible evidence does not back up his claim. In fact, the finished film was rated "PG" by the MPAA in November 1987, before Heather died.
Heather is interred in the outer wall of the aptly named "Sanctuary Of Tenderness" mausoleum at Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California. Her crypt can be found by GPS at 34.05849, -118.44177. This location is close to grave markers for Truman Capote and Mel Torme.