Heather O'Rourke (1975 - 1988)

A photo of Heather O'Rourke
Heather Michelle O'Rourke
1975 - 1988
December 27, 1975
San Diego, California United States
February 1, 1988
Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego 3020 Children's Way, in San Diego, California United States 92123
Heather O'Rourke was born on December 27, 1975 in San Diego, California United States. She died on February 1, 1988 at Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego, San Diego, California United States at 12 years old.
Updated: January 23, 2022
Heather Michelle O'Rourke was born to Kathleen and Michael O'Rourke and she had a sister Tammy O'Rourke who was born four years before Heather. She is best remembered for being a popular young actress in the 1980s with numerous television shows and the Poltergeist films where she had the starring role as Carol Anne Freeling. Born in San Diego in the final week of 1975, her mother Kathleen worked as a seamstress and her father Michael was a carpenter. Her parents divorced in 1981 and Heather lived with her mother Kathleen who remarried a part-time truck driver Jim Peele in 1984. At the time they were living in a trailer park in Anaheim. When Heather's career blossomed the family purchased a home in Big Bear Lake California. It's an interesting story how Heather was chosen for the role of Carol Anne in Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist films. Spielberg was having lunch at MGM's commissary and saw Heather eating with her mother while Heather's sister Tammy was shooting 'Pennies from Heaven'. Spielberg offered her the part after his lunch and the following day she was signed, beating Drew Barrymore who was also up for the role.
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Heather O'Rourke
Most commonly known as
Heather Michelle O'rourke
Full name
Did Heather go by other names?
Other names or aliases
Unknown. Did Heather move a lot? Where was her last known location?
Last known residence
Heather O'Rourke was born on in San Diego, California United States
Heather O'Rourke died on at Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego 3020 Children's Way, in San Diego, California United States 92123
Congenital stenosis of the intestine
Cause of death
February 5, 1988
Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary 1218 Glendon Ave, in Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California United States 90024
Burial / Funeral

Ethnicity & Lineage

O'Rourke is an Irish surname

Nationality & Locations

Born in San Diego, she lived in Anaheim before her actress career took off. The family purchased a home in Big Bear Lake and at the time of her death she was living in Lakeside California.


Between her acting roles she attended Big Bear Elementary School. She was president of her 5th grade class.


Was Heather a religious woman?


Was Heather baptized?


Heather began acting at a very early age. Her first television role was an episode of Fantasy Island called "Elizabeth's Baby / The Artist and the Lady" where she starred as five year old Liza Blake. She also had roles in numerous popular television shows during the 1980s including: CHiPs, Webster, Our House and Rocky Road. Of course she is best remembered for her starring roles in Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist movies. She played Carol Anne Freeling in Poltergeist (1982), Poltergeist II: The Other Side (1986), and Poltergeist III (1988).

Personal Life

As an actress she was nominated numerous times for various 'Young Actress' awards. She won the 1985 Young Artist Award as 'Best Young Actress, Guest in a Television Series' for her role in Webster.

Military Service

Did Heather serve in the military or did a war or conflict interfere with her life?

Average Age

Life Expectancy

Acting Career

Movies: 1982 Poltergeist Carol Anne Freeling 1982 Massarati and the Brain Skye Henry Television film 1985 Surviving: A Family in Crisis Sarah Brogan Television film 1986 Poltergeist II: The Other Side Carol Anne Freeling 1986 Around the Bend The Daughter Television film 1988 Poltergeist III Carol Anne Freeling Posthumous release and Final film role Television: 1981 Fantasy Island Liza Blake (age 5) Episode: "Elizabeth's Baby / The Artist and the Lady" 1982–1983 Happy Days Heather Pfister Recurring role, 12 episodes 1983 CHiPs Lindsey Episode: "Fun House" 1983 Matt Houston Sunny Kimball Episode: "The Woman in White" 1983 Webster Melanie 3 episodes 1984 Finder of Lost Loves Jillian Marsh Episode: "Yesterday's Child" 1986–1987 The New Leave It to Beaver Heather Episodes: "Material Girl", "Bad Poetry" 1987 Our House Dana Episode: "A Point of View" 1987 Rocky Road Russian Girl Episode: "Moscow on the Boardwalk"
Daniel Pinna
Daniel Pinna shared
on Dec 06, 2020 11:34 AM

Family Tree

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Heather's Family Tree

Heather O'Rourke Heather O'Rourke


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Daniel Pinna commented on Dec 06, 2020
I had to add a biography for you. I will update more as I'm able. Thank you for dedicating so much of your short life to entertaining all of us. Such a bright light.


Share Heather's obituary or write your own to preserve her legacy.

Heather O'Rourke died on February 1, 1988 at Rady Children’s Hospital - San Diego, San Diego, California United States at 12 years old. She was buried in Pierce Brothers Westwood Village Memorial Park & Mortuary, Los Angeles, California United States. She was born on December 27, 1975 in San Diego, California United States. We have no information about Heather's family or relationships.

1975 - 1988 World Events

Refresh this page to see various historical events that occurred during Heather's lifetime.

In 1975, in the year that Heather O'Rourke was born, in January, Popular Mechanics featured the Altair 8800 on it's cover. The Altair home computer kit allowed consumers to build and program their own personal computers. Thousands were sold in the first month.

In 1980, by the time she was only 5 years old, on April 24th, a rescue attempt was begun in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. The attempt failed and 8 US servicemen were killed. Eight helicopters had been sent for the mission, but only 5 arrived in operating condition., Since the military had advised that the mission be aborted if there were fewer than 6 helicopters, President Carter stopped it. Upon leaving, a helicopter collided with a transport plane and the men were killed.

In 1983, Heather was just 8 years old when on August 30th, the Soviet Union claimed that a South Korean Boeing 747 jetliner (Flight 007), bound for Seoul from New York City, had strayed into Soviet airspace. Saying that they believed it to be a U.S. spy plane, the passenger jet was shot down by a Soviet SU-15 fighter - after it had tracked the airliner for two hours. All 269 passengers (including a U.S. Representative from Georgia) and crew were killed.

In 1986, Heather was merely 11 years old when on September 8th, the Oprah Winfrey Show went into national syndication. A popular talk show, it was number 1 in the ratings since its debut. The last show aired on May 25, 2011.

In 1988, in the year of Heather O'Rourke's passing, on December 16th, 1988 the popular film Rain Man was released. Featuring Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise. this film brought attention to autistic savants and was based on the "megasavant" Laurence Kim Peek. The film would later go to win four Oscars including Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director and Best Actor in a Leading Role.

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