Buzz is brewing for the upcoming Poltergeist remake!
While we tick off the days on the calendar until the long-awaited Poltergeist remake hits the theaters, let’s take a look at the cast of the 1982 original and see where they are now.
Heather O’Rourke (Carol Anne Freeling): The infinitely adorable heroine of the original Poltergeist was just 6-years-old when the movie was released.
She would go on to make two more movies in the Poltergeist franchise: Poltergeist II: The Other Side and Poltergeist III. In 1987, she was misdiagnosed with Crohn’s disease, according to Biography. She died of a bowel obstruction on February 1, 1988, just a few weeks after her 12th birthday.
Dominique Dunne (Dana Freeling): Dunne played Dana, the archetype early-80s snarky teenage girl (although she was comfortably in her 20s at the time), who spent at least half of the movie at a friend’s house.
While filming Poltergeist, Dunne was involved with Los Angeles chef John Thomas Sweeney, who was frequently abusive towards her, according to The Pink Smoke. On October 30, 1982 — just under five months after the release of Poltergeist — Sweeney showed up at the home of his estranged girlfriend Dominque. He threw her down onto the ground and strangled her; she spent the next five days in a coma, and died on November 4.
The deaths of two of the original film’s young stars at early ages gave rise to rumors that the Poltergeist franchise was cursed, especially considering that two of the actors in the second installment of the franchise also died after production. However, both of the adult actors were known to be sick when the movies were produced, so their deaths were neither unexpected nor particularly noteworthy. There is also no truth to the rumor that all three of the kids in the original Poltergeist movie died: Oliver Robins, the young actor who played Robbie Freeling, is alive and well to this day.
Oliver Robins (Robbie Freeling): The actor who played the middle Freeling child endured a near-death experience of his own during filming, according to IMDb. During the infamous Clown Scene, when the prop’s rubber arms wrapped around Oliver’s neck, the actor couldn’t breathe. Gasping for breath, the director thought he was acting and yelled “Keep going!” Only when Oliver began to turn blue did the production team realize anything was amiss.
Oliver survived the incident and went on to have a long career in the movie industry behind-the-scenes. He continues to write, produce, and direct to this day.
Craig T. Nelson (Steve Freeling): The venerable actor was a known commodity in the TV and film industry before Poltergeist, and has continued to have a long and respected career since, appearing in the long-running TV show Coach, as well as the beloved Disney classic The Incredibles, among dozens of other projects.
The 69-year-old recently wrapped up production on NBC’s beloved family drama Parenthood, where he played Braverman family patriarch Zeek.
JoBeth Williams (Diane Freeling): Like co-star Craig T. Nelson, JoBeth Williams was a known actress — though hardly a major star — before Poltergeist made her a household name.
Williams continues to work in the TV and film industry, although these days she mostly sticks to TV (Hart of Dixie, Dexter, Marry Me).
The Poltergeist remake is scheduled to hit theaters in 3-D on July 24.