See the Cast of ‘Poltergeist’ Then & Now
The 1982 film ‘Poltergeist’ is considered a classic of the horror genre. Written and produced by Steven Spielberg, the movie tells the tale of the Freeling family, whose youngest daughter is kidnapped by vicious demons and evil spirits.
‘Poltergeist’ was a box office success which spawned two sequels. It is also associated with a notorious curse, as a several people associated with the film died prematurely.
See what ‘Poltergeist’ actors are still around and what they are up to below.
Craig T. Nelson, Steven Freeling
Then: Nelson played dad Steven Freeling in ‘Poltergeist.’ The role was a big break for the-then 37-year-old, who had previously been a supporting actor in TV movies and had made guest appearances on shows like ‘Charlie’s Angels’ and ‘WKRP in Cincinnati.’
Now: Nelson is best known for his portrayal of Minnesota State football coach Hayden Fox on ‘Coach.’ However he’s been a very successful TV actor since that sitcom ended in 1997. He currently stars on ‘Parenthood’ and played Chief Jack Mannion on ‘The District’ between 2000 and 2004.
JoBeth Williams, Diane Freeling
Then: In ‘Poltergeist,’ JoBeth Williams plays Diane Freeling, the mom who has to rescue her daughter after she’s kidnapped by evil spirits. Before that Williams was recognized for her roles in movies like ‘Stir Crazy’ and ‘Kramer vs. Kramer.’ The next year she was part of ‘The Big Chill’s’ ensemble cast.
Now: Williams appeared on an episode of ‘Damages’ in 2011 and played a supporting role in ‘The Big Year’ in 2011. The 63-year-old is currently president of the Screen Actors Guild Association.
Heather O’Rourke, Carol Anne Freeling
Then: O’Rourke was six when she played Carol Anne, the youngest Freeling daughter who is snatched by a demon named The Beast. It was her second acting job, having previously appeared on an episode of ‘Fantasy Island.’
Now: O’Rourke reprised her role as Carol Anne in ‘Poltergeist II’ and ‘III.’ However, tragedy struck not long before the third film was released, and O’Rourke died of a cardiac arrest. She was 12. In 2008, footage of O’Rourke’s Carol Anne character was used in a series of ads for Direct TV. O’Rourke’s mother approved of the spots, which she called a “wonderful tribute” to her late daughter.
Dominique Dunne, Dana Freeling
Then: In ‘Poltergeist,’ Dominique Dunne played oldest sister Dana. The daughter of novelist Dominick Dunne and the sister of actor/director Griffin Dunne had guest-starred on TV shows like ‘Hart to Hart’ and ‘Fame.’
Now: About six months after ‘Poltergeist’ was released, Dunne was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend. She was 21. She is buried in the same cemetery as O’Rourke.
Oliver Robins, Robbie Freeling
Then: Robins was middle child Robbie in ‘Poltergeist.’ That same year he had a small role in ‘Airplane 2.’
Now: Robins quit acting not long after shooting ‘Poltergeist 2′ in 1986. The 41-year-old returned to showbiz as an adult, but as a writer and director. He is responsible for the 2008 direct-to-video movie ‘Man Overboard.’
Zelda Rubinstein, Tangina Barrons
Then: In ‘Poltergeist,’ Rubinstein played eccentric medium Tangina Barrons. It was by far the biggest role to date for the 4’3 inch actress who returned for the ‘Poltergeist’ sequels.
Now: Rubinstein, who was an advocate for little people, is also well-known for her role on the TV show ‘Picket Fences.’ She died in 2010 at age 76.
Richard Lawson, Ryan
Then: You might remember Lawson as Ryan, one the paranormal experts from US Irvine who investigates the Freeling’s home. He followed that up be playing Dr. Ben Taylor in the original ‘V’ miniseries.
Now: Lawson continues to work steadily as an actor, director and teacher. He most recently played Shwayne Sr. on the HBO comedy series ‘Angry Boys.’