Urban Legend Wiki

Possibly one of the more creepy movie urban legends comes from the Poltergeist trilogy of films. The urban legend revolves around the tragic deaths of four cast members who died during the six years between the first and third films (1982-1988). This rumor was often fueled by the fact that real skeletons were used as props during certain scenes in the first two Poltergeist films.

Background: The Poltergeist story revolves around the Freeling family consisting of Steven (Craig T. Nelson), Diane (JoBeth Williams), Dana (Dominique Dunne), Robbie (Oliver Robbins) and Carol Anne (Heather O'Rourke). The family is stalked and terrorized by a group of ancient ghosts that are attracted to the youngest daughter, Carol Anne.

  • The first cast member to die by the curse was 22-year old Dominique Dunne. Dunne had previously broken up with her abusive boyfriend, sous-chef John Thomas Sweeney. Sweeney showed up at her West Hollywood house and after she agreed to talk to him outside, Sweeney strangled her into a coma in the driveway. She was placed on life support and never regained consciousness, dying on November 4, 1982 after being declared brain dead.
  • The second cast member to die by the curse was 60-year old Julian Beck, who portrayed Henry Kane in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Beck, who had been diagnosed with stomach cancer in 1983, succumbed to the disease on September 14, 1985.
  • The third cast member to die by the curse was 53-year old Will Sampson, who portrayed Taylor in Poltergeist II: The Other Side. Sampson died on June 3, 1987 of post-operative kidney failure and pre-operative malnutrition problems after undergoing a heart and lung transplant.
  • The fourth and final cast member to die by the curse was 12-year old Heather O'Rourke, who died on February 1, 1988 during surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction.