December 27, 1975 – February 1, 1988“They’re Heeeeeeeere…”
Everyone remembers that line from Poltergeist.What a great film. It tapped into every nightmare… spooky clown puppets,trees that could eat you and dead bodies in the pool. The windows of my mindslammed shut.Little Heather starred in the first film, and both sequels. The last one, Poltergeist 3,should have been called, Everyone Looks Bloated and Unhealthy. Nobody lookedgood in that film. Nancy Allen looked bad, and little Heather, well, letsjust say that I don’t know how pretty of an adult she would have made. It wasall filmed in the JohnHancock Building, (pre Chris Farley) in Chicago.
Thanks to Josh Perry for that photograph.
Heather was born two days after Christmas, 1975. In 1988, she wasliving in Lakeside California, near San Diego. She was attending school, and waspresident of her fifth grade class. This is where they lived in, and anotherview.
She was cute, could speak, and could memorizea 60-page script in about an hour.
In June of 1987, she had completed filming Poltergeist 3.During that shoot, she had suffered from “flu like symptoms.” She was diagnosed with a parasite she had picked up from drinking water at a campground.From what I can gather, she suffered from bowelobstructions all her life, but nobody knew about it. Heather was put onmedication, and the problem had supposedly been resolved.
On the night of January 31st, 1988, many months later, Heather claimed shedidn’t feel well, and crawled into bed with her parents. She woke up vomiting,so her mother gave her a Gatorade drink that was supposed to soothe her stomach.
The next morning she got up, and still complained of feeling bad. Her feetand fingers were swollen and blue. Her mother tried to give her some toast toeat, but Heather complained that she couldn’t even swallow. Her mother wasgoing to call the doctor, but Heather passed out, so she called 911. By the timeparamedics arrived, little Heather was in shock. One of them asked if she was feeling bad.”A little,” was her reply. On their way to the hospital, her mothertold Heather, “I love you.” “I love you too,” were the lastwords they spoke. Such beautiful last words.
They took Heather to the AlvaradoMedical International Hospital, 8 miles away.
She had heart failure enroute, and was revived at 9:25a.m. She was then taken byhelicopter to the ChildrensHospital and Health Centre in San Diego, where theyarrived at 10:45a.m.
Here is the emergencyentrance.
Her parents were informed that Heather mighthave suffered brain damage, because her pupils were fixed and delighted.
The doctors suspected it might be a bowel obstruction, and rushed her intosurgery. They were too late. Heather died on the operating table at 2:43 p.m. Her intestines had burst, and she died from the infection. She wasonly 12.
Findadeath.com Super Friend ScottWilliams sends this explanation of the cause of death: 1) Renal failure causes fluid retention and massive blood pressure increaseleading to “Massive G.I. Bleed” (it blows it wide open), which leads to a “severe hypotension”, (from the subsequent bleeding) which leads to”ischemic cardiomyopathy (the heart does not get enough oxeygenated blood),and that’s it. Done.
Findadeath friend Dana sends us this: Just wanted to comment on the death of HeatherO’Rourke. I have heard that she was posthumously diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease. That would certainly explain all of her symptoms. I was diagnosed at age 27, but now that I know the symptoms, I can remember spells back to my preteen years and earlier. This would certainly explain her bowel obstructions. When you grow up with this disease, you become accustomed to the daily grind of it anddon’t notice a lot of things. To say that her parents should have noticed that she was ill is a bit unfair. If she did indeed haveCrohn’s Disease, normal would have been a relative term. I have been hospitalized with bowel obstructions that took weeks to develop. Itdidn’t occur to me that something serious was wrong until days before I had to be hospitalized with warnings from my doctor that ruptured intestines were not far off.
After the funeral (WARNING DEAD PIC -Thank you Andy San Dimas) Heather was interred on February 5th, at Westwood Memorial Park,just below where Peter Lawford was once interred. The plaque on her crypt readsCarol Anne, Poltergeist I, II, III. I’m surprised they didn’t put her HappyDays credit on it too.
This is Tara and I live in San Diego County and let me tell you, Lakeside, where Heather O’Rourke lived isa pretty rough neck part of town in East San Diego. East San Diego (El Cajon, Julian, Lakeside) are poor areas. Whenever anyone tells you that they are from that part of town, you can definitely assume they have nomoney. El Cajon has even been cited by the city council for allowing too many apartment complexes to be built there! Lakeside has lots of dirt roadsand wooden houses with rusting appliances in the front yard.
There are no decent hospitals in East San Diego, everyone knows that. Alvarado is little more than a medical clinic. If you really want decentmedical care, you have to go to San Diego, and that can mean the difference between life or death (as it did in this case). Anyway, I really thinkHeather O’Rourke died of neglect, because it’s not like she was a child growing up in a third world country where there were no doctors. Herparents should’ve known something was wrong with her. It’s ironic that she was a child actress making huge sums of money, yet none of it was beingspent on her; to have suffered on and off from bowel obstructions her entire life, it really makes you wonder if she was ever taken in for yearlycheckups.
Findadeath.com friend Kennedy sends usthis: She did not die from neglect. Everyone one who is a “star”of a movie must undergo a physical for the purpose of obtaining an insurancepolicy in the event they kick off during filming so the studios can recoup theirmoney if the film is unable to be finished. Heather was given an all clear atthe time of P-3. Her mother subsequently sued all parties involved in herphysical and being insured blah, blah, blah. It was settled out of court.
This in – May 2002: Hi–I was just reading the article on Heather O’Rourke and I have to takeexception of Tara’s characterization of “East San Diego”. First of all, the area is called “East County” and is not part of the city of San Diego. It’s like any other suburb, it has nice areas and not-so-nice areas, but living there does not necessarily mean you’re “poor”.
A couple of years ago, they closed the hospital in El Cajon, but it was certainly still inexistence in 1988. Plus, Grossmont hospital is a full-service hospital, and it should have been closer than Alvarado (which is not just a “medicalclinic” but also a full hospital). I don’t know where Tara lives, but she certainly doesn’t know East County. BTW, I LOVE your site and I just finished reading your article on Gilda Radner. It’s nice to know someoneelse felt like they knew her and loved her even though they never met her. I still miss her.
Thanks for the clarification Kathy. I know Tara well, and I’m sure she meantnothing derogatory by her description. Gilda lives on. xx.
DECEMBER 2001 – Findadeath.com friend Jack Venturo sends us thispicture of the home used in theoriginal Poltergeist film. Thanks, Jack!
Findadeath.com friend Denise Duvall donated the photographs for this story.Thank you so much, Denise.
Wanna see her mailbox?