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Poltergeist Curse

Updated on May 25, 2014

The Extreme Version Of The Curse

"A Striking number of cast members who appeared in the Poltergeist movies have met with an untimely, unnatural death."

Alternately: "All of the 'child stars' from the Poltergeist films died suddenly within a few years of the films."

Myth or fact?

This one...

Well, JoBeth Williams, the mother character (Diane Freeling) in Poletergeist and sequels, is alive and well. She has gone on to appear in many films, tv shows, etc. The same goes for Tom Skerritt, who played "Bruce Gardner" in the films, and for Craig T. Nelson who was the father, Steve Freeling, in the Poltergeist movies.

JoBeth Williams, Tom Skerritt, and Craig T. Nelson have all been quite highly visible in the film and television industry, long after the last Poltergeist film was made.

Child actor, Oliver Robbins, who played brother/son "Robbie Freeling," more than survived the films and childhood. As an adult, he is now an active writer and director.

MYTH BUSTED: This is an obvious myth, or at least, the EXTREME STATEMENT or version about 'everyone from the Poltergeist movies is dead,' is NOT TRUE.


One may, indeed make other statements about the cast members of the Poltergeist series who have expired before their natural time.

Many people believe that some sort of 'curse' has surrounded the film and cast.

1982 Trailer - Original Poltergeist Movie

Some Kind of Curse?

Actresses and Actors, Heather O'Rourke, Will Sampson, Julian Beck, and Dominique Dunne have all passed away - an unusually high number of individuals of actresses and actors who all worked on the same Poltergeist projects.

The Snopes site, which deals with tracking down evidence to either show or deflate myths, does not show evidence of an actual 'CURSE' in this case, however, the site reports that:

"A number of unusual deaths have occurred to the cast of the Poltergeist trilogy of films."

Snopes - Myth/Movies and Films page

(bare link below)

TV People Move Chairs in the Freeling Home

Ghosts N Things

Carol Anne Freeling

Carol Anne was the youngest member of the 5 member Freeling family, who moved into a new home in suburban California, only to find out that something more than the plumbing is wrong with the house!

The Freelings: Steven (father), Diane (mother), Dana (elder sister), Robbie (brother), and Carol Anne (youngest sister).

Unknown forces are attracted to Carol Anne and begin to communicate with the 5 year old girl via television static. Before Carol Anne is actually taken into an unknown dimension, several strange things occur in the house.

(not in exact chronological order)

* Carol Anne's pet bird dies

* An earthquake - only the Freeling family feels it, only at the Freeling residence

* Carol Anne, seemingly out of nowhere or out of context, exclaims, "They're Here!"

* In the morning, following Carol Anne's notification that "They're Here," glasses break and forks bend at breakfast-time:

Diane Freeling (mother) to Carol Anne: "What did you mean? Who's here?"

Carol Anne: "The TV people."

* More harmless 'tricks' in the beginning, mostly affecting Diane Freeling - the chairs stack up on the table when everyone has left the room for a moment.

* By the time Steven Freeling returns home from work (same day as the chair-stacking, fork-bending, glass breaking), Diane has something to show him...

During the daytime, Diane has drawn a line on the floor in the kitchen, starting near the refrigerator, leading about 20 feet into the dining area of the kitchen. She puts Carol Anne near the refrigerator and an unseen force moves Carol Anne, along a straight line, into the dining area...Diane also sits on the floor and is moved by the unseen force, then describes the experience to her husband - as something not unpleasant but like a sort of tickling pull from inside the stomach.

Response, Steven Freeling: "Nobody goes into the kitchen until I know what's going on."

* Brother Robbie is first frightened by the ominous look of a tree outside his bedroom window (quite a while later, on a later night - Robbie is actually attacked by the tree!)

* After saving Robbie from the tree, the Freeling family cannot find Carol Anne. The tree attack was a distraction orchestrated by the house/land/poltergeists to separate the parents from Carol Anne so she could be stolen.

* At first, the Freeling's feel that the tree incident was a coincidence of the storm or tornado outside at the time...until they cannot find Carol Anne!

* Brother Robbie's stuffed clown toy moves around his room and does not 'stay put' where he places it. He tosses a shirt or robe over the clown so he doesn't have to look at it - but later on, the clown has disappeared (later on, the clown will attack him)

* Oldest sibling, teenaged sister, Dana, is disturbed by the effects of the house, and finally leaves the house to go stay with friends right after Carol Anne is stolen by Poltergeists and taken into another dimension in the house.

Sometimes the family can hear her, but cannot reach her.

A Team of parapsychologists and supernatural investigators is called in to help find Carol Anne Freeling.

Dana Freeling

Eldest daughter in the Freeling family, Dana, is in her teen years (actress Dominique Dunne) and is old enough to be without her parents, so she's not in the Freeling home when Carol Anne goes missing.

Dana stays with friends while most of the events are happening in the new Freeling residence in Poltergeist.

In Memory of Dominique Dunne

Are There Spirits We Cannot See

Reverend Henry Kane

Reverend Kane poses as 'a friend' to Carol Anne in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. He says he needs Carol Anne to help him and his friends go to the light. He and his friends, lost souls, need to get to the light that leads to the 'hereafter.'

The true intent of Reverend Kane, however, isn't as nice as what he tells Carol Anne. Really, he wants to tear the Freeling family apart and gain their souls.

Julian Beck as Reverend Kane

The Medicine Man

In Poltergeist II: The Other Side - Taylor, a Native American appears as a medicine man or shaman, and has some sort of connection with or knowledge of Reverend Kane.

Once Taylor investigates a cave that has turned up which was near the home where the Freelings had such problems (in the original Poltergeist movie), he realizes that, somehow, even though the Freeling family moved out of the suburban home a year ago, Kane has managed to locate Carol Anne.

Taylor goes to find Carol Anne and defend her.

Talk about Will Sampson as an actor

All Departed

Dana Freeling, Carol Anne Freeling, Reverend Kane, and Taylor the medicine man will not return to the screen for more movie development, at least not with the original actors reprising the roles - Dominique Dunne, Heather O'Rourke, Julian Beck or Will Sampson.

The four actress/actor personalities above, all from the Poltergeist series cast, are all deceased.

Dominique Dunne's life ended after an episode of domestic violence in 1982

Julian Beck died of stomach cancer in 1985

Will Sampson died of post-operative kidney failure in 1987

Heather O'Rourke died suddenly of septic shock and the resulting rapid-buildup of bacterial toxins related an acute bowel obstruction in 1988

Source: Snopes

What is Your Opinion?

Coincidental Deaths or Deaths From Some Strange Curse?

See results


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    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 3 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      I liked the first movie, Dave (yet again), and look forward to the Raimi/Kenan version.

    • profile image

      Dave (yet again) 3 years ago

      And so Hollywood is to reboot the Poltergeist franchise, with a remake of the original film completed in 2014, and slated for a July 2015 release. From IMDB:

      “Legendary filmmaker Sam Raimi and director Gil Kenan re-imagine and contemporise the classic tale about a family whose suburban home is invaded by angry spirits. When the terrifying apparitions escalate their attacks and take the youngest daughter, the family must come together to rescue her.”

      So, keep a beady eye on the fortunes of these actors and actresses: Sam Rockwell, Rosemarie DeWitt, Saxon Sharbino, Kennedi Clements, and Kyle Catlett.

      Will the supposed curse strike again? Will it not? Watch this space…!

    • profile image

      elaine1218 5 years ago

      Although i dont have a link i have seen the story of the subarb built on top of a cemetary on unsolved mysteries. A couple was going to build an underground pool when a stranger came to them & told them people were buried in the back yard. They dug and found 2 coffins. When they researched they found that an old cemetary black hope,were slaves were buried, was there & they developers had only moved headstones to save money. They put the bodies back & soon them & their neighbors experience poltergeist like activity and sued. Originally they won but when the developer appealed it was reversed.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey Dave (again) - good thinking! Yes, we should monitor what happens if Hollywood reboots and remakes the Poltergeist film. I was far from thinking ahead like this. Your idea makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks for sharing!

    • profile image

      Dave (again) 5 years ago

      Sooner or later Holywood will decide to ‘reboot’ the Poltergeist franchise and re-make the original film. If said film’s cast start dropping like flies afterwards, then we can start taking this thing seriously…

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      HassassinsCreed01, please direct me to where you got your information on the Titanic/Jack The Ripper(s). I'm interested in checking these ideas out!

      To add to your comment concerning the movie "Heathers," Jeremy Applegate (1965-2000 R.I.P.) died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 34. In the movie, he played the role of Peter Dawson. Kim Walker (1968-2001 R.I.P.) played the role of Heather Chandler in the movie. She died of a brain tumor at age 32.

    • profile image

      HassasinsCreed01 6 years ago

      This was niether a curse ir coincidence but a human sacrificial practice an individual offers for their fame. If you have the film Heathers on blu-ray thry inform you 2 individuals died exactly indicated in the movie,by commiting suicide and and a brain tumour. Truth was they were sacrificed.Jack the Ripper was not one individual there are thoudands of them.Why do you think God sank the Titanic first they it went out."Not even God could sink it".To many Jack the Rippers on board.

    • ZAFRIUS profile image

      ZAFRIUS 6 years ago from Earth

      Well look what I found today.Sorry to not find u earlier.The curse is just as real as God.

      Oh, if you think curses are as real as an invisible man , that lives in the clouds.If you would have asked me at age 17,the age I wrote Cuesta Verda, I would have told you, It is real!!So for many years, and now, I call this brand of music, Geist Metal.My genre.

      Go play with fire, go listen to the songs I wrote for Poltergeist.My project name is ZAFRIUS.Read the lyrics.

      (Back in 1982) is my latest release for the Poltergeist Legend.

      P.S. I don`t care want people think anymore.Why write music for the Trilogy? I`ll take the 5th on that one..........

    • profile image

      Kelly 6 years ago

      Very scary movie

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Jeffrey, I don't know Tammy.

    • profile image

      wat J 6 years ago

      i just saw #2 today it was very creapy. my cuzs have dolls like Carol Anne. i'll never see them the same way again. i like this web site a lot.

    • profile image

      Taylor 6 years ago

      It's so sad they all died, especially Heather. She was so cute and full of potential :(


    • profile image

      Jeffrey 6 years ago

      If anyone can help me with this, please do. Try to find a way to contact Tammy (Heather's older sister) and ask Tammy to ask Heather's spirit to put supernatural energy directly on me whether you believe in ghosts or not. Tammy has claimed to have talked to Heather's spirit before. Try to contact Tammy at least if you know her. Thank you. If you do not think it's a good idea to try to contact her if you don't know her, don't try to contact her if you don't know her.

    • profile image

      Jeffrey 6 years ago

      I wonder who'd win if I were to try to challenge the curse ( if there was a curse) and survive if I had it. It would be awesome if I won!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi Marie. I agree - definitely creepy. It gets creepier, too, the more you think about stuff...

    • profile image

      Marie 6 years ago

      I heard the rumors about that long time ago, not sure if was true or not. Is very creepy

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for commenting Rochelle. Could be a curse - could be just coincidence. Definitely strange.

    • profile image

      Rochelle 6 years ago

      Omg, can't believe this it's actually scary.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hi fletch - thanks for stopping to read and comment. You might find some information at snopes .com

    • profile image

      fletch 6 years ago

      I am currently beginning to write a research paper over this topic are there any other great sources such as this one?

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 6 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Dave, I'm sure a lot of people are as upset as you are on the matter of Dominique Dunne's murderer only serving such a brief time in prison after taking her out of this world! Thanks, however, for cursing creatively here instead of openly.

    • profile image

      Dave 6 years ago

      Dominique Dunne's murderer served less than four years in jail for taking her life. That makes me ####ing curse!

    • profile image

      rebecca tubbs 7 years ago

      i love the movies but that's just what they are... movies

      just because these people died don't mean there was or is a curse.. just because thoes bodies that came up near the end of the first movies were real bodies doesn't mean there is or was a curse. i don't belive in hauntings.. but the movies are still really good....

    • profile image

      Adrian 7 years ago

      I think it's pure coincidence,but who really knows? Guess I'm a bit of a skeptic.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      HI Y&T. Thx for commenting. Are you able to be more specific about the Houston, TX situation? If so, I'm sure I'll need to add some information to this hub about the Houston, TX events. Can you give me a few more details so I can look into things?

    • profile image

      Y&T 7 years ago

      Poltergeist movie is not only a cult classic,was based on an actual incident near Houston,TX,not the ghost & gobblins,actualy when developers made a suburban houses over a cemetary,and kept it quiet. What made Poltergeist movie a creepy legend is people thinking it's a curse,cause of the actor's & actress's dying.

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello Seeker7, thanks for commenting. The hairs on my neck still stand on end from my watching the Poltergeist movie trailer - even though I've seen the movie at least a dozen times! That Spielberg guy... wow.

    • Seeker7 profile image

      Helen Murphy Howell 7 years ago from Fife, Scotland

      Very creepy indeed. Hairs on my neck are standing up!!!

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hey d33, thanks for stopping by to read and comment. Glad your like this site.

    • profile image

      d33 7 years ago

      okay that's wats up. i lke this web site

    • mythbuster profile image

      mythbuster 9 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      anon - no, Heather O'Rourke really did pass away quite a while ago. I heard the same rumours tho' about the "Mikey Likes It" kid from the cereal commercials and believed the rumours for quite a while, too. I learned from a sort of "What are the child stars doing now" TV show that "Mikey" is alive and well.

    • profile image

      no name 9 years ago

      shocking actors envolved in the same movie would die during the makings its a curse no dought

    • profile image

      anon 9 years ago

      Wow i didn't know that Heather O Rourke was dead - I thought it was a rumour like that 'mikey' kid from the life cereal commercials (who is alive and well)


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