A tragic story of a life cut short before reaching its substantial potential, Heather O'Rourke began acting at the age of 5, and made her first notable appearance in 1982, playing the role of Heather Pfister in the waning years of the TV sitcom "Happy Days" It was that same year which would produce the role that has immortalized her: Poltergeist.
A brilliant screen test allowed her to snatch the role from its original intended recipient, Drew Barrymore. Heather's character, Carol Anne Freeling, delivered the most famous line in the movie: "They're heeeeeere." She stole the show with her performance and was lauded as one of the top upcoming actresses for years to come. She may have even pursued a career in directing, as she was constantly making home movies, and leaning more towards that than acting. She also had an incredible knack for memorization. Those who worked with her claimed she could memorize 60 pages of script in an hour.
She landed a large number of roles after Poltergeist. Besides the sequels, there were appearances in Chips, Fantasy Island, and the New Leave it to Beaver. She expressed excitement in being seen in roles other than Poltergeist.
While filming Poltergeist 3, Heather came down with flu-like symptoms. A visit to a specialist failed to detect her intestinal blockage. On January 30th, 1988, she crawled into her parents' bed, saying she didn't feel well. The next day she got up, deciding to go to school, and ate some toast. She fainted and quickly became discolored. She was flown to an emergency room and died on the operating table on February 1st.
(IMDB was used to research this entry.)