"Poltergeist" Actress Zelda Rubinstein Dead at 76

The actress had several health issues that eventually "overtook her," says her agent.

Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 4:52 PM PDT
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2009 in Memoriam

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Zelda Rubinstein

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Zelda Rubinstein, the diminutive actress with the high-pitched voice who rose to fame with her role as a psychic trying to rid a suburban family's home of demons in all three "Poltergeist" films, died Wednesday in Los Angeles.

Rubinstein, 76, died of natural causes at Barlow Respiratory Hospital.

Her agent, Eric Stevens, told the Los Angeles Times that Rubinstein suffered a mild heart attack two months ago. He said she has several health issues that eventually "overtook her."

The 4-foot-3 Pittsburgh native made her film debut in the Chevy Chase comedy "Under the Rainbow," and after her break-through role in 1982's "Poltergeist," she went on to make dozens of film and television appearances.

She showed up as an organ player in the John Hughes teen comedy "Sixteen Candles" in 1984, and appeared in films such as "Teen Witch," "Guilty as Charged" and "Southland Tales." She had a regular role on "Picket Fences" and made guest appearances on shows such as "Mr. Belvedere," "Tales from the Crypt," "Caroline in the City" and "The Pretender."

Rubinstein was also the narrator on the show "The Scariest Places on Earth," which was hosted by Linda Blair and featured interviews with people talking about experiences in haunted houses and other locations.

Rubinstein also founded the nonprofit Michael Dunn Memorial Repertory Theater Company for little people.

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