Zelda Rubenstein, psychic in “Poltergeist,” dies at 76

Kim LaCapria - Author
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Jun. 15 2013, Updated 9:45 p.m. ET

Zelda Rubenstein, perhaps best known for her role in the 80’s blockbuster Poltergeist, has died nearly a month after being taken off life support at Cedars Sinai hospital in Los Angeles.

Rubenstein, who was known for embracing the differences that later made her a star, died of natural causes at the hospital today, her agent confirms. Rubenstein had been hospitalized for two months following a mild heart attack, he says:

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“She had ongoing health issues and unfortunately they finally overtook her,” he said.

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Rubenstein worked as a medical lab technician into her forties, before making her debut in the 1981 Chevy Chase flick Under the Rainbow. Rubenstein’s transition to acting was not an easy one, and she quickly learned to steel herself against typecasting and industry biases after being sent on a series of auditions for typical “little people” parts:

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“I couldn’t and wouldn’t do those parts, which would have been degrading for anyone,” she told The Times in 1982. “I began to emotionally armor myself for what I knew I had to do, and how very lonely out there it was going to be.”

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Rubenstein has no immediately apparent surviving kin, and a funeral service is not planned for the actress. It is expected that a “celebration of her life” will be held at a later date.

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