- Discovered at age 5 by Steven Spielberg while she was eating lunch with her mother and agent at the MGM commissary; she initially rebuffed Spielberg's introduction by telling him she didn't talk to strangers.
- Won the role of Carol Anne in Poltergeist (1982) after a second audition where she demonstrated how well she could shriek.
- Appeared in commercials for Rainbow Brite and McDonald's.
- Was elected 5th grade class president at Big Bear Elementary School.
- Died at Children's Hospital and Health Center in San Diego of heart failure and septic shock during emergency surgery to treat an undiagnosed bowel obstruction.
- Her mother sued Kaiser Permanente Hospital for medical misdiagnosis and was awarded an undisclosed sum after arbitration.
- Buried in the same cemetery as her Poltergeist co-star Dominique Dunn
- Tammy O'Rourke — Sister
- Jim Peele — Stepfather
- Michael O'Rourke — Father
- Kathleen O'Rourke Peele — Mother
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