*Please see the “Kaiser Ebola Virus Synchronicity Update” and “Heather O’Rourke – Kaiser killed Carol Anne of Poltergeist” at the end of this post.
This was an interesting temporary assignment and one of my favorites. I don’t cherish the experience because it happened at Kaiser, nor because it was office work rather than the usual industrial drudgery. No, this work assignment was special for me because it allowed me to experience a part of modern life that I would never have had the chance to otherwise.
When I first was offered the assignment in my temp agency’s office I wasn’t desperate, but I did want to work. You have to understand that in the 80’s and early 90’s employment was plentiful. You could work for reasonably decent wages whenever you wanted and getting a job, was not a problem. Ah, it does make one long for the Reagan era. The “go go” eighties before NAFTA, Globalization, “made in China” and “off-shoring” were ever heard of. At that time, they didn’t even check your credit, it was simply “here’s the job, can you do it and if so, do you want it?”. Those were the days. So when I was offered the assignment as a “Data Entry Clerk”, I was hesitant and wondered if I shouldn’t wait around for something that I had experience in, like warehouse or industrial. I had no clue what a “Data Entry Clerk” was or did, other than what the title implied.
Like I said, I wasn’t exactly desperate but I did want to work so… brave and adventurous soul that I am, I agreed to be dispatched. What helped me to decide was how my other fellow temp workers (who were also accepting the assignment) both appeared and spoke. They were refined and mannered people who exuded a genteel aura of sophistication. Their suave demeanor’s and proper speech seemed enticing. I thought to myself, “these people feel like they are better than me, I wonder if this is my chance to take a step up in class and pad my resume with a new marketable skill”. There indeed is a very defined and enforced class system among temp workers, snobbery is actually part of your skills set. Because you are competing for choice assignments that are in semi-limited supply and could possibly lead to a permanent position with benefits, you have to sell your sizzle as well as your steak. Laced into the office gossip among temps in between assignments and waiting to be dispatched, are bona fides about how well their last assignment went and how invaluable they had been to the previous client. This all the while hoping, that the office manager would overhear. As a temp, you are always promoting yourself. Self promotion is both expected and encouraged. Buoyed by this concept, I decided to accept the assignment.
I still feel guilty about this even now but I will admit that, I lied to get the job. As you will soon see further into the story, I still had some problems to work out in my “Christian Walk”. Chock that up to youth, stupidity and hormones. Anyway, I told the dispatcher that I had experience in Data Entry when in fact, I didn’t know a thing about it. Back then, people would always advise you to lie and say that you had experience when in actuality, you did not. I never liked doing that and wouldn’t dream of doing it now. To me it is like stealing from the employer, cheating them out of a competent worker. I wouldn’t want someone doing that to me so I will not do it to them. It was the thing to do back in those days though and I must admit, I learned things that I never would have otherwise.
We were told that the men were required to wear a long-sleeved collared shirt with a tie and that the ladies were to wear skirts without any jewelry nor perfume. You know, the standard corporate uniform. It was friday and we were told to report to work on monday. My soon to be coworkers were all seasoned office workers of course, and knew exactly where the building was since most of them had worked there before, having been previously dispatched there by other temp agencies. Not wanting to reveal my inexperience, I just played along like I knew where that particular office building was too. Because everyone already knew where it was, no address was given by the dispatcher, only a visual description. These vague directions were met with confident affirmations and nods from everyone present but me. Only one of my other co-workers was just as baffled as I was but he didn’t let on either, at least not in front of dispatch. I began to feel just the slightest twinge of panic.
Determined not to fail, the first thing that I did was go out and buy the missing pieces of my corporate uniform. I already had a briefcase since there had been a fad of young black men carrying them just a few years before. Not a one of us had a job that required one though (or any job for that matter), but you looked super cool if you did. I had carried one during my last year at Merritt College and it had served me well. Being in college, carrying a briefcase conveyed that you had ambition and were destined for great things in the future. The thing was a “chick magnet”. A girlfriend much later on ridiculed me for being fond of it, which embarrassed me. “What are you carrying that briefcase for? You ain’t got no job…” To be fair though, she did take care of me, housed me and gave me money so, I couldn’t complain. But now, I could pick up my trusty old friend once again and feel like a “somebody”. This time, legitimately so.
- Briefcase? Check!
- Dress Shirt? Check!
- Ugly Tie? Check!
- Dress slacks? Check!
- Dress Shoes? Uh, not exactly.
This was before Payless Shoe Store existed and dress shoes back then were expensive. Black Leather Reeboks? Double Check! I was now a passable corporate Drone!:)
I didn’t sleep a wink that Sunday night. When the morning came, I was so excited and nervous that I wasn’t even tired. I had laid out my clothes etc. the night before and was fully dressed in a second. As I approached the El Cerrito Del Norte Bart Station I began to feel like I had finally arrived, especially when I spotted several other Drones making their way to work too. As I stood next to my fellow Drones upon the platform I wondered to myself, “Can they tell that I’m actually not one of them? Would they shirk away and denounce me as a fraud if they knew?” The more I studied their vacuous stares and zombie like expressions, the more I realized that they couldn’t have cared less about anything at that particular moment. I then began to wonder if they were even alive at all. Perhaps my initial enthusiasm was misplaced? Depression slowly settled in.
19th Street BART Station, Moo! Mooo! The cattle car disgorged. No delusions of grandeur anymore, I was just another suit in a sea of polyester. It was 7:45 am, check in time for orientation was forty five minutes away at 8:30 am. Knowing only the name “Kaiser” and a cross street, I made my way.
Really, I had nothing to worry about, I just followed the herd and was quickly delivered straight to the front door. It was like I was caught in the current of a fast-moving river of quiet desperation. I did however, become somewhat concerned that were I to have tripped and fallen, I would surly have been trampled to death without anyone ever noticing. As if on cue, my fellow temps arrived just minutes after I did. To my profound relief, they seemed just as nervous as I was, a stark contrast to their performances at the agency. Maybe I would be alright after all? We then formed our own little pack, checked in with security and ascended with nervous excitement.
The girl among us was very pretty and out in front, turning around frequently to gift us with her slightly flirtatious witticisms. I later found out that she had some rather “classical” techniques for achieving “job security”, if you know what I mean. Later, I would discover that not only was this an accepted pathway to success, it wasn’t the exclusive purview of just female office workers either. Males also served at the discretion and pleasure of their female superiors too. It was upon realizing this that my ideal of the corporate world’s respectability came crashing down. The corporate world was more riddled with favoritism and priviledge than any blue collar job I had ever worked (except as a Teamster). I would soon add a new term to my vocational lexicon, “Office Politics”. Ugh, gives me the shivers even now just thinking about it. But, I get ahead of myself. This tawdry truth was only a short downbeat to what was otherwise, a rather enjoyable sonata.
Our contact was a very tall and bald headed black man who dressed neatly and wore stylish glasses. He was very nice, nurturing and patient with us. He explained what we would be doing, exactly how long the assignment would last, why we were needed, the performance expected from us, conflict and complaint resolution, how to conduct ourselves among the “permanents” and finally, the opportunity to gracefully bow out now if the job was not to our liking. We were smoothly told all of this after having been seated in a long, windowless back room full of two rows of computers facing back to back. Had it not been for our corporate liaison’s polished aplomb in orienting noobs, I believe some of us would have turned right back around and walked out. I’m so glad that nobody did because it got much, much better. In short order we became a little ad hoc family tucked away in our denuded, bare and windowless back room. Pink, by the way. Pink, the room was pink. The room was laminated from floor to ceiling in pink, muted wallpaper.
The department that I was in handled “foreign claims” exclusively. Unlike what the name implies, foreign claims are requests for reimbursement from health care providers who are not members of the Kaiser approved provider network. I can tell you that at that time, were you to receive treatment from an any unapproved healthcare provider, YOU WERE GOING TO PAY FOR THE ENTIRE COST OF YOUR OWN TREATEMENT OUT OF YOUR VERY OWN POCKET, not Kaiser’s. All foreign claims were summarily denied without any consideration at all. That was the work that I was assisting, to tell people that they were totally screwed.
There was a portly black woman (everyone in this story is black) who was in charge of the department and she was a corporate assassin. I had heard about people like her before in lore and myth, read about them in magazine, seen them portrayed on the cinema screen but never, ever thought that I would actually get to see one up close and personal. I am kind of a weird little guy and had once upon a time thought that I wanted to pursue a career in Business Administration. I would read business magazines, watch TV shows about business and got to know people at almost every Small Business Administration Office in the Bay Area. I even knew people at the local Chamber Of Commerce too. Like I said, I’m kind of weird. Anyway, when I saw how viciously and callously this woman would just deny people’s claims, I knew exactly what she was and I marveled. It was like I was observing some rare and elusive animal in its native habitat or something. In hindsight, I’m sure thats exactly what I was watching. Cold and brutally efficient, the person hired to do all of the dirty work, the stuff that keeps normal people from sleeping at night. She was unabashedly in all of her glory and positively glorious to watch. Awe-inspiring really. My co-workers didn’t have a clue as to what I was so enthralled with, they took no notice of her at all. My peers were simply employees, gratefully unburdened by the harsh realities of management. I knew what I was looking at however, it was like watching something so grotesquely gruesome that you just couldn’t turn away. Ghoulishly riveting. I felt so sorry for all those abandoned claimants and consequently suffered an acute crisis of conscience. What was I doing in this place? I felt all soiled and, dirty.
She moved through the floor like a whirlwind, very quickly despite her girth. She looked maniacal. Like a shark in full feeding frenzy, wild-eyed and nimble. She had minions, like a Queen Bee with Drones. The Drones would rush up to her and report, then quickly dash away after having been given their orders. No sooner had one quickly buzzed up to her with a payload of files, than another would take it’s place. Like a frenetic ballet or something. The Queen Bee assassin would no sooner take two or three steps when some file bearing Drone would buzz up to her and stop. “What is the claim for!”, the Queen Bee assassin would bark. The Drone would reply, only to be pelted with another query, “Where does the claim originate from?” the Queen would ask. “From France, your Majesty”, the Drone would subserviently answer. “No, no,” the Queen would say, “deny this based on code 201, we are not going to pay for that, no!”, stabbing her finger at the offending bit of text on the paper. The Drone would gravely nod it’s head in compliance, while looking as sincere as a parishioner might who has just received enlightened canon. Unpredictably, the Queen would randomly pause to quickly explain her justifications for denying a claim, the attendant Drone would then solemnly nod it’s head in earnest agreement. I think the Queen did this so that she would be able to legally say she gave the insured’s plight a modicum of consideration. My impression was that the Queen was extremely smart, extensively experienced and absolutely ruthless. Now that I think about it, she fit the classical description of a Psychopath perfectly. THAT’S IT! That’s what she was! She was nothing less than a “high functioning” Psychopath who was reveling in her native habitat, that being the corporate realm.
What was even more weird than the above little story, was me running accross my old childhood soccer coach’s name on a payroll bonus check that I was randomly fingering through. This is where it gets gangstalker weird. I had not seen this man in decades yet here I was, in some nondescript office building, randomly discovering his payroll performance bonus check and holding it in my hand. How weird is that? The bonus was for the dollar value of $120,000 although, the amount was not nearly as shocking as the payee, my former soccer coach. He was a PhD. and they tend to command high wages. But how the heck in all of the random probabilities would I happen to pick up this one box full of hundreds of payroll checks and see his name among them all? Were they testing me or something? Was I caught up in some sort of gangstalker conspiracy or was it just serendipity? Had I been discreetly investigated and our connection been flagged for a test of my honesty? The questions abound. I saw him a few years later at a Home Depot where I had then become employed at and that was weird too. He had his son with him then, who looked to be about seven or eight years old. His manner was agitated and it was not exactly a cheerful reunion. Things change when you grow up. Maybe he could tell that my insanity wasn’t an adolescent “phase” after all, that it had evolved into permanent dysfunction. Whatever, life is a funny, funny thing, but there are explanations if you look deep enough and are brave.
Remember how I told you that a very well defined caste or class system existed among temporary workers? I soon discovered that this system was only amplified beyond belief in the corporate world. Windows are a commodity, reward for accomplishment or favor, so are big offices with space enough for furniture and plants. As a temporary worker in the corporate world, you are on the lowest rung, barely tolerated and frequently held in contempt. Abusing you is just another perk for permanents who like to feel superior. You won’t find any relief from the bosses either, to them you are just a cost-less opportunity to boost their underlings moral as they appreciate the fact that they are “permanents” and not lowly temps. You know, squeeze that extra bit of butt kissing out of them in the process. All temps understand that enduring this snobbery is just another part of their unwritten job description, we are well aware that we double as professional door mats for hire. The corporate clientele are the most abusive offenders of them all however, a total shock for me having come from the far more egalitarian blue collar world. In that world, everyone is pretty much equal, everyone either a king or a slave. I now no longer wistfully gaze upon skyscrapers with naive envy. No thanks, they can keep it all to themselves, thank you very much. No amount of money would suffice nor be apt compensation for breathing stale air, donning feigned airs and dodging those vipers in cheap suits. Nie wieder.
There was this married girl who worked in my department and her name was “Nena” (last name withheld to protect the guilty). Strangely enough, she looked very much like Nia Long when she played the role of office secretary in the movie “Boiler Room”. My Nena was the real life version of this character in almost every way, just prettier. Nena was trapped in a loveless marriage of convenience held together by the ubiquitous glue of a young child. A sad and timeless tale. Anyway, Nena’s boss just happened to be her blood aunt and she just happened to be my immediate supervisor. I had to periodically deliver reports to her in between my other duties. Well, the aunt seemed to think that I might make an excellent substitute for Nena’s disenchanted husband, an emotional supplement for her if you will (Scoobie Snack). Stupid me, I didn’t realize what was happening to my dumb ass until it finally dawned on me while being taken home by both Nena and her husband. During the ride home, Nena tried to shove me in the face of her husband. Sometimes I look back and wonder how it is that I have managed to remain “above ground”. How stupid can one fool be? Look up the word “imbecile” in the dictionary and my picture will be under it, right between “chump” and “doofus”.
Well, Nena’s husband was actually the coolest guy, I really liked him. So composed, so unfazed while his wife was clamoring all over the back of his seat, trying her best to convince him that something had transpired between us. The saddest part about it was that something actually did happen. It wasn’t sex or anything like that but almost as bad and now Nena was telling her husband all about it.
Nena had been throwing herself at me every opportunity she got. She insisted that we have lunch together, be near each other whenever possible etc. Her aunt would enable this and send her and I on phony errands, just so that the two of us could be alone together. Let me add at this point that Nena was not an ugly girl, or did I say that already? She was very pretty, had a kickin body and could be very sweet and flattering. A total fake mind you, but man, it sure did feel nice to get envious stares from both men and women wherever we went. To tell you the truth, after a while I no longer cared that she was married, it just felt so good to be with her. Stupid right? What can I say? I succumbed to my human frailty. We never kissed and only touched a few times (held hands & hugged, I think). I knew that I was being played but didn’t care because it kinda felt good. More accurately, I was in a strange environment, out of my element and she was a safe port in that storm. Safe that is, until that harrowing ride home. The incriminating thing that had transpired between us was an attempt by her to entice me into buying her a piece of jewelry from Sears.
Up until that point, I knew I was being played but nothing had been lost, it had been an even exchange. To buy her a piece of jewelry though, that was taking it to a whole notha level and I didn’t want to be that big of a chump. The thought that instantly popped into my head, I’m ashamed to say, was “If I’m going to buy you something, I want something in return.” I had been eyeballing those shapely legs of hers, those pretty teeth and her ample bosoms… so I kind of thought that were I to buy her a piece of jewelry, she had to give me a “piece” of you know what, in return FIRST. Shameful I will admit but she had been enticing me for a while. Now, Nena was putting the carriage before the horse. When I balked at the jewelry counter Nena got PISSED. She tried to hide it but it was obvious. To myself I said, “Oh well”. The next day she was somewhat aloof but not mean nor too unkind. I should have let bygones be bygones and avoided her but, like I said, I’m stupid. She set me up for ride home. (stop laughing, it isn’t nice to laugh at the afflicted)
As you can guess, my days were numbered after that. I was soon back at the agency looking for another assignment. Had I have played Nena and her aunts deadly game, I believe that I could have gotten a permanent position and a piece of Nena as well (after much jewelry buying of course). Nena’s husband really did not seem to care, he casually mentioned something about a girl named “Heather” during that awful ride home, which seemed to hyper energize Nena. She began to jump around like a cat on a hot tin roof. I wanted to jump out of the car but I couldn’t get past Nena’s animated bouncing about, I think that she was strategically blocking any escape. When I got back to the agency, I received one of the only chastisements that I had ever received. Nena and her aunt had badmouthed me to my boss.
The bad report sounded ridiculous when narrated by my boss, who was a woman that just so happened to also have a crush on me. I was so stupid that it had never dawned on me that she too, used the workplace as a dating playground. The corporate world seems to be one big giant casting couch. Anyway, she excoriated me as if I had personally offended her and looking back on the whole thing, perhaps I had. She seemed to share the same ethical convictions as Nena and or aunt, or lack thereof. I got a few more assignments after that and my boss quickly went back to being her usual self. On my bosses last at the agency however, she offered herself to me but I was too stupid to understand what I was being given. Probably just as well though, I might have a brood of kids to support by now.
If you think that I kept my job at Kaiser by entertaining a desperate housewife, you would be mistaken. Data Entry can be many things but for our little group, ten key was the task. Back then I didn’t know ten key and for the first day I struggled. My co-workers were all ten key mavens and had either worked at banks crunching numbers all day or done other office work. They could instantly tell that I was a complete fraud and seemed disturbed by my lack of ability. At the end of the first day they were treating me like I would soon not be with them. I was devastating however, I ain’t much for crying nor sitting on no “pity pot”. When I got home that night, I stayed up and practiced learning the ten key pad and using it with both speed and accuracy. By the time the sun came up, I was pounding out numbers like I had been doing it for years. When I arrived at work and started entering numeric data with speed and gusto, my co-workers were aghast and incredulous, “I thought you said you didn’t know ten key??”, they quizzically exclaimed. I then exuberantly responded, “I don’t, I just stayed up all night and practiced!” with a big, goofy, childish smile on my face. I felt so accomplished that a couple of days later I festooned my work area and monitor with silly plastic animals that were all the rage back then. “Thats pretty good, it took me over a year to learn”, the pretty girl said. Soon after, she too began to flirt with me. I turned her down flat though, because I already “had” Nena and didn’t want to mess that up. I did live kind of dangerously though, and would go over to other women’s desks and talk to them. I would get down on one knee so as to be right up underneath them and then talk very intimately with them to make Nena jealous. It would work too, Nena would go crazy and lose composure, snipping at the women while pulling me away for some very urgent matter or some other such thing. See? There was actually something there. I don’t think that I was that big of a clueless chump. So much for the office romance that never was.
Random occurence; I remember coming out of the building one day for lunch and being greeted by the haunting sound of a trumpet. It was an easy and melodious sound that was soothing and in stark contrast to all of glass & concrete I had emerged into. The music was transitory and elusive, it teased from an origin close by but one that I could not locate. I held still and listened . There it was again, almost an instrumental now. The notes filled the air, absorbing them and stealing them away. All of nature seemed to pause in quiet reverence of their ephemeral beauty. I did too. Where was the sound coming from? Then I saw them, an aborted bleat giving them away. Across the street were a man and a woman seated at a table, she was latina with waist length hair and he was a Don Johnson look-alike wearing Ray Bans. I then saw the glint of brass and the unmistakable shape of a horn, it was a trumpet. The long-haired latina was being serenaded in a very public way, just as all serenades are meant to be. She was flicking her hair as if it was a champion mare’s tail and the guy was being as suave as suave could be. I was observing a timeless dance being performed with uncommon grace and style. I instantly felt both privileged and humbled. These two were doing it the right way.
SYNCHRONICITY UPDATE 08/20/14
“Patient at Sacramento Kaiser Permanente tested for Ebola”
CDC will conduct blood tests
I get nervous when I see synchronicities like this, it makes me think of two things. One, either I received advanced notification through some psychic or spiritual means because something bad is about to happen or two, I am being monitored by some very bad and powerful people attempting to “set me up”.
Not four days AFTER posting my story about my time working as a temp at Kaiser Permanente Claims department in downtown Oakland, California (posted August 16th), than I see this Ebola story splashed on the “news” (August 20th). Like I said, stuff like this makes me nervous because I have had the government sanctioned Gangstalkers use the media to try and defame me, control the narrative. Lately, I have been seeing a lot of stories on TV News that have some relevance to my current activities as well as things I have done in the past. Examples;
- “Watch this!” Many random stabbings of random people all around the Bay Area and being showcased on TV News. I carry a knife everywhere for personal protection against the Gangstalkers, I have an assault in my past (a security guard grabbed my wrist as I was backing up and trying to retreat. I wrestled my wrist out of his hand and the blade caught him in the palm – I DID NOT STAB HIM. He was the aggressor, not me).
- Stories about random window breaking of businesses around the Bay Area, I had two incidents like that when still in my homeless Alcoholism over ten years ago. I have since been sober for a decade, have been arrest free for crime (recent bogus Involuntary commitment to prevent me from reporting Gangstalking) and have reformed just about as much as anyone can, DESPITE CONTINUAL HARASSMENT AND SABOTAGE FROM THE GANGSTALKERS.
- The face of that bomb making politico (whose name I don’t even remember) in the news again, being transfered to a mental facility from San Bruno Jail. I think this guy was made to look and act just like me using SF Gate and the media so that when the Gangstalkers set me up, the narrative would already be in the public’s mind. I have been politically active and spoken to politicians in public meetings about various wrongdoings, they want me out of the way. The part about him & the media set up is in the middle of the post, I think.
- There have been other synchonicities as well that I have yet to detail in a single post however, if you enter “synchronicity” in my blog’s search field, all posts containing these will be listed (I think there are five right now).
So when I saw this, I rushed to bang out this Synchronicity Update. Ponder the implications in context of all that I have said above. Kaiser is a bad organization (I used to be a Kaiser member) that has repeatedly been sanctioned, fined and punished for anti-human bad behavior. Many Epidemiologists say that the first rule of containment for any disease is not to carry it across national borders. The CDC (Center For Disease Control) has just had recent unprecedented breaches of protocol in handling the most dangerous of diseases.
It appears to me (and many others) that the stage is being set for “accidentaly” releasing the Ebola Virus here in the United States. It never should have been brought here in the first place and lo and behold, it ends up at Kaiser. Hmmm… Can everyone say “Martial Law”?
Patient at Sacramento Kaiser Permanente tested for Ebola
CDC will conduct blood tests
A patient at the Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento Medical Center is in the process of getting tested for Ebola, officials confirmed Tuesday evening.
Kaiser Permanente is working with the Sacramento County Division of Public Health.
The patient may have been exposed to the Ebola virus, so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will take blood samples.
“In order to protect our patients, staff and physicians, even though infection with the virus is unconfirmed, we are taking the actions recommended by the CDC as a precaution, just as we do for other patients with a suspected infectious disease,” said Dr. Stephen Parodi, an infectious disease specialist, in the Kaiser news release. “This includes isolation of the patient in a specially equipped negative pressure room and the use of personal protective equipment by trained staff, coordinated with infectious disease specialists.”
Hospital physicians and infectious disease experts are working with local and California public health agencies to monitor the case.
The California Department of Public Health released a statement that said the low-risk patient is being tested out of an abundance of caution, and that there are currently no confirmed Ebola cases in the state.
“There have been no patients admitted to California hospitals who are considered to be at high risk of Ebola according to CDC criteria,” state department of health officials said in a news release.
The outcome of the test is expected in several days, depending on CDC protocols, according to the Sacramento County Department of Health and Human Services.
UC Davis infectious disease specialist Jonna Mazet said the public should not panic.
No cases have been confirmed in the United States.
“You should know that [Ebola is] hard to get,” she told KCRA 3. “You would have to be in real close contact.”
She added that with the heightened awareness about the virus across the country, more people are coming forward even with minor symptoms, especially those who visited West African nations.
“Even though it might only be a sore throat or a little bit of a fever [that] we get with a common cold, if they have the slightest chance of being exposed, they’ll immediate go to the hospital,” Mazet said.
Ebola has killed more than 1,200 people in West Africa and sickened about twice as many.
KCRA 3’s Kathy Park contributed to this report.
Heather O’Rourke – Kaiser killed Carol Anne of Poltergeist
O’Rourke in Poltergeist (1982)
|Born||December 27, 1975
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Died||February 1, 1988 (aged 12)
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, U.S.|
|Other names||Heather Michelle O’Rourke|
Heather O’Rourke (December 27, 1975 – February 1, 1988) was an American child actress. She was discovered at the age of five by directorSteven Spielberg while eating lunch with her mother at the MGM commissary. Spielberg cast her as Carol Anne Freeling in the 1982 horror film Poltergeist. She would go on to reprise the role in the second and third installments.
In addition to her roles in the Poltergeist series, O’Rourke also had a recurring role on Happy Days from 1982 to 1983, and made several television guest appearances. She died at the age of 12 of cardiac arrest and septic shockcaused by a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis in February 1988.
O’Rourke was born in San Diego, California to Kathleen and Michael O’Rourke. Her mother worked as a seamstress and her father was a construction worker. She had an older sister, Tammy. Kathleen and Michael divorced in 1981, and O’Rourke’s mother married truck driver James A. “Jim” Peele in 1984. After her parents’ divorce, O’Rourke rarely saw her birth father and called her stepfather “Dad”.
Before O’Rourke began acting, the family lived in a trailer park in Anaheim. Her success later allowed the family to purchase a home in Big Bear Lake, California. In between acting jobs, O’Rourke attended Big Bear Elementary School where she was president of her class. At the time of her death, the family was living in Lakeside, California.
In a contemporary interview with American Premiere magazine, director Steven Spielberg explained that he was looking for a “‘beatific’ four-year-old child…every mother’s dream” for the lead in his 1982 horror film Poltergeist. While eating in theMGM commissary, Spielberg saw five-year-old Heather O’Rourke having lunch with her mother while older sister Tammy was shooting Pennies from Heaven. After his lunch, Spielberg approached the family and offered O’Rourke thePoltergeist role; she was signed the next day, beating Drew Barrymore who was up for the role.
In the Poltergeist trilogy, O’Rourke played Carol Anne Freeling, a young suburban girl who becomes the conduit and target for supernatural entities. The New York Times noted that she had played the key role in the films and commented, “With her wide eyes, long blonde hair and soft voice, she was so striking that the sequel played off her presence.” During the production of the original Poltergeist, Spielberg twice accommodated the child actress when frightened. When scared by performing a particular stunt, Spielberg replaced O’Rourke with a stunt double wearing a blonde wig; and when disturbed by the portrayal of adult abuse toward the child characters, Spielberg did not require her to perform the take again. For her work in Poltergeist, O’Rourke earned between US$35,000–$100,000. O’Rourke played the role in all three films.O’Rourke and Zelda Rubinstein were the only original cast members to appear in the third film, Poltergeist III.
O’Rourke’s performance of her famous line from Poltergeist
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O’Rourke’s delivery of the lines “They’re here!” in the first film, and “They’re baa-aack!” in the second (that film’s tagline), placed her in the collective pop culture consciousness of the United States. “They’re here!” is #69 on the American Film Institute‘s list of 100 Movie Quotes.
After her work in 1982’s Poltergeist, O’Rourke secured several television and TV movie roles. In April 1983 she starred as herself alongside Morey Amsterdam and well-known Walt Disney animated characters in the hour-long television special, Believe You Can … and You Can! She also appeared in CHiPs,Webster, The New Leave It to Beaver, Our House, and had a recurring role on Happy Days as Heather Pfister. In the television movies Massarati and the Brain and 1985’s Surviving: A Family in Crisis, she played Skye Henry and Sarah Brogan, respectively.
O’Rourke became ill in early 1987 and was misdiagnosed by doctors at Kaiser Permanente Hospital as having Crohn’s disease. She was prescribed cortisone to treat the disease, which reportedly caused her cheeks to appear puffy and large. On January 31, 1988, O’Rourke suddenly became ill again, vomiting and unable to keep anything down. The next morning she collapsed while preparing to leave for the hospital and her stepfather called paramedics. O’Rourke suffered acardiac arrest en route to the hospital, and after resuscitation she was airlifted by helicopter to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, where she died later that day.
Speaking to reporters, O’Rourke’s manager David Wardlow initially announced that it was believed she died ofinfluenza. However, hospital spokesman Vincent Bond announced that O’Rourke died during surgery to repair an acute bowel obstruction (caused by congenital stenosis of the intestine) complicated by septic shock; this report was corroborated by the San Diego County coroner’s office on February 3, two days after her death. Later reports changed the specific cause of death to cardiac arrest caused by septic shock brought on by the intestinal stenosis.
On May 25, 1988, Sanford M. Gage, the O’Rourke family attorney, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Kaiser Foundation Hospital in San Diego. O’Rourke had been seen by doctors at Kaiser since birth, and the suit claimed that they failed to properly diagnose her long-standing small-bowel obstruction: had they not simply treated her for Crohn’s disease with prescription drugs, she could have been cured by means of a simple operation;and this misdiagnosis caused O’Rourke’s death. Kaiser Permanente spokeswoman Janice Seib responded: “We have reviewed the case extensively, and we believe that the diagnosis and the course of action taken by our physicians was entirely appropriate. It’s a very complex case, complicated by a number of factors, and not given to any simple answers.”The case went to arbitration and was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
O’Rourke’s death complicated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer‘s marketing for her last work, Poltergeist III, out of fear of appearing to be exploiting her death. Tom Skerritt and Nancy Allen, O’Rourke’s co-stars, were discouraged from giving interviews about the film to avoid questions about her death. O’Rourke died four months before the theatrical release of Poltergeist III, which was dedicated to her memory.
O’Rourke’s death (as well as four others) has been attributed to a supposed curse on the Poltergeist films and those associated with them; this urban legend supposedly stems from a real human skeleton used as a prop in the first film.According to backstage personnel, the ghost of O’Rourke herself haunts Paramount Pictures’ stage #19, where she filmed episodes of Happy Days.
On September 26, 2008, DirecTV began airing a national TV advertisement developed by Deutsch; directed by Erich Joiner and cinematographed by Daniel Mindel, the advert features O’Rourke’s famous “They’re here!” scene from Poltergeistblended with contemporary footage of her co-star, Craig T. Nelson, intended to mimic the film. After the advertisement drew criticism from bloggers and columnists for exploiting O’Rourke, DirecTV responded in a Q&A session with readers of The New York Times. Jon Gieselman, DirecTV’s senior vice president for advertising and public relations, explained that O’Rourke’s family “was involved in the spot from start to finish [and that] Heather’s mother not only approved, […] she also commented that Heather’s inclusion was a wonderful tribute to her daughter.”
|1982||Massarati and the Brain||Skye Henry||Television film|
|1982||Poltergeist||Carol Anne Freeling|
|1985||Surviving: A Family in Crisis||Sarah Brogan||Television film|
|1986||Poltergeist II: The Other Side||Carol Anne Freeling|
|1986||Around the Bend||The Daughter||Television film|
|1988||Poltergeist III||Carol Anne Freeling||Released posthumously|
|1981||Fantasy Island||Liz Blake (Age 5)||Episode: “Elizabeth’s Baby / The Artist and the Lady”|
|1982–1983||Happy Days||Heather Pfister||12 episodes|
|1983||CHiPs||Lindsey||Episode: “Fun House”|
|1983||Matt Houston||Sunny Kimball||Segment: “The Woman in White”|
|1984||Finder of Lost Loves||Jillian Marsh||Episode: “Yesterday’s Child”|
|1986–1987||The New Leave It to Beaver||Heather||2 episodes|
|1987||Our House||Dana||Episode: “A Point of View”|
|1987||Rocky Road||Russian Girl||Episode: “Moscow on the Boardwalk”|
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