EXPIRED: 01/27/10 – Zelda Rubinstein, 76, was a little actress who made a big impression.
Best known for her role as the eccentric psychic Tangina Barrons in the 1982 film Poltergeist, Rubinstein also made a brief, but classically funny, appearance as an organist in the John Hughes film Sixteen Candles and worked regularly in movies and television until 2006. Her most recent work was in the TV show Picket Fences.
A longtime supporter of her gay following, Rubinstein was at the height of her career when she became an activist for AIDS awareness. She appeared in ads promoting safe sex and attended the first AIDS Walk at before it was fashionable for celebrities to be associated with such causes.
She was also outspoken on issues upholding equal treatment for little people after participating in the 1981 Chevy Chase film entitled Under the Rainbow, a film Rubenstein felt degraded its extensive cast of little people who were cast to portray the midgets who were cast as the Mucnhkins in the Wizard of Oz movie.
But it was her folksy and calm portrayal of Tangina Barrons that people remember her most for, a little bit of acting that played a big part to ground the largely special effects driven narrative of Poltergeist.
She was big, for someone so small.