Heather Michele O'Rourke was an American actress from Big Bear Lake, California, who was best known for her role as Carol Anne Freeling in Steven Spielberg's Poltergeist series. Born on December 27, 1975, Heather began her acting career at the age of five when she was cast in a television commercial for the Burger King fast food chain. Shortly after this, she landed her breakout role in Poltergeist, which earned her a Young Artist Award. Throughout her career, Heather went on to appear in various television shows and movies, including Happy Days, Webster, and The New Leave it to Beaver. She also had a recurring role in the popular soap opera, General Hospital. Her last film role was in 1988's Poltergeist III, in which she reprised her role as Carol Anne Freeling. In early 1987, O'Rourke became ill with giardiasis, which she contracted from well water at her family's home in Big Bear Lake. She was subsequently diagnosed as having Crohn's disease. She was prescribed cortisone injections to treat the disease during the time she was filming Poltergeist III. The steroidal injections resulted in facial swelling of the cheeks, which O'Rourke's mother said she was very self-conscious about. Sadly, Heather's short life ended too soon when she passed away at the age of 12 in February 1988. At the time of her death, she was living in Big Bear Lake, California with her family. In her memory, Heather's family established the Heather O'Rourke Memorial Fund, which provides grants to children's charities in the area.
The legacy of Heather O'Rourke continues to live on in the hearts of many fans. Her performance in Poltergeist was iconic, and her smile and warmth were infectious. In her short time on this earth, Heather made an indelible mark on the entertainment industry, and she will always be remembered as an incredibly talented actress who touched the lives of many.