I am sometimes asked, “How did that girl in Poltergeist die?” Heather O’Rourke’s death is often associated with the “Poltergeist curse,” a run of bad luck that plagued those involved with the original film for years afterwards. However, her unfortunate death at a young age was quite earthly in nature.
Contributed by Christine White (firstname.lastname@example.org):
According to People Magazine February 15, 1988:
“It happened so fast. At 9:25 am, Monday Feb. 1, only hours after developing what appeared to be flu symptoms, Heather O’Rourke, child star of the Poltergeist horror films, was rushed from her home in Lakeside, Calif., to the hospital; she was in septic shock and cardiac arrest. An hour later she arrived by airlift, alive but in critical condition, at Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego.
There she was operated on for intestinal stenosis, an acute bowel obstruction, a congenital condition neither her mother nor stepfather had suspected. At 2:43 pm, Heather died on the operating table. She was 12 years old.”
Subsequent issues of People tell how doctors first diagnosed and treated her for Crohn’s disease. The parents sued the doctors for wrongful treatment, but I don’t know what happened to the suit.